America’s schools, including Arizona’s, are stuck in mediocrity. Our academic achievement indicators trail 20 of our Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) peers in every subject. It’s not getting better, either.
It matters to more than national pride. The U.S. has fallen to tenth in overall economic competitiveness, our lowest rank ever. Stanford’s Eric Hanushek estimates the U.S. economy would grow 4.5% more in the next 20 years if our students just performed at the international average level.
We have to import workers in fields requiring advanced degrees and outsource tech jobs to other countries. Employers struggle to find trainable applicants.
American educators typically claim academic failure results from inadequate funding. But that simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
In 2018, before the COVID-inspired spending boost, the U.S. already spent $16,628 per student, well over the OECD average of $10,759. Arizona’s all-source spending, documented by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, exceeds $14,500 per student.
Other experts offer poverty and inadequate prenatal care as explanations for our achievement gap. But again, living standards in the U.S. are among the world’s highest. Prenatal care is provided to all pregnant women who are income eligible, which included 42% of all births in 2020.
The causes of our systemic failure are more likely laid bare by the reaction found in an Arizona Republic article reporting that the BASIS schools had captured 10 of the 12 top spots in the ranking of Arizona high schools by U.S. News and World Report. Since BASIS Schools, which have also topped many national rankings in recent years, are public charter schools, have open admissions, and may not require testing or charge tuition, this was an astonishing accomplishment.
You might normally assume that the media and education administrators would be eager to know the “secret sauce,” what BASIS does to consistently excel. But according to the experts quoted in the article, it’s all about race and privilege.
So says Tomas Monarrez of the Urban Institute: “Those rankings are really a measure of prestige and prestige as we know it in this country is very intertwined with history, with race, with income.” Test scores can only reflect quality of instruction “if the schools had the same student body.”
And indeed, seven of the top 20 public high schools are located in the wealthiest ZIP Codes in the state. The usual suspects, Asians and whites, are over-represented in the high achieving schools.
But here’s a simple logic test. If wealth and privilege explain the superior performance of the top-ranking schools, why aren’t all schools in high wealth districts excellent? After all, the seven charter schools in well-off areas outperformed district schools with the same demographics. The other 13 schools in the top 20 weren’t even in wealthy districts at all.
Here’s a more likely explanation than skin color or “privilege.” BASIS, like all schools of excellence, is unflinchingly committed to high-level learning for all of its students. BASIS stresses rigorous requirements and high expectations.
Students take an average of 11 Advanced Placement courses with six required for graduation. Students, parents, and school staff are all expected to robustly participate in educating.
Critics contend that the schools’ high expectations are a de facto barrier for many public school students. But there is nothing inherently racist or discriminatory about high expectations. In fact, they are critical for underprivileged students to be successful, as has been amply demonstrated by KIPP schools, New York’s Success Academies, and others.
The wealth-and-privilege explanation for excellence is also belied by the example of Tolleson’s University High School. Many students come from working-class or immigrant backgrounds, but Principal Vickie Landis offers no excuses. On the contrary, “we pride ourselves on rigorous expectations and opportunities.” The school was ranked in Arizona’s 10 Best and was named the state’s only 2022 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.
America’s education system structure is based on an outdated factory model, not suited to flexibility, accountability, and personalization based on consumer choice. Union-style work rules make excellence unlikely, despite many dedicated individual teachers.
But no more excuses. It’s hard to excel, especially with underprivileged students, but we can do better – and we must.
The invasion crisis on our southern border is baffling. How could this outrage be happening?
The White House wants you to believe that they’re powerless to stop it. They’re willing to appear negligent and/or stupid to keep the wheels turning.
But there’s only one possible explanation that holds water: it’s a plan. And it’s working, as the border zone is flooded with millions of illegal immigrants, almost all of whom will stay permanently and lay the groundwork for an invincible voting bloc in the future.
If they sincerely wanted to do something about it, officials wouldn’t have to do any complicated thinking. Just stop egging on illegal immigrants to come and reinstate the Trump-era policies that were at least somewhat helpful.
You have to almost admire the masterminds of this catastrophe for persevering in the face of growing bipartisan revulsion at this inhumane tragedy. They are playing the long game—even at the price of taking short-term political hits.
In contrast to the helpless-to-resist image they’re trying to peddle, they’re contemplating the revocation of Title 42, a Trump era rule allowing migrant crossings to be turned away for public health reasons. Homeland Security projects ending Title 42 would result in an inconceivable 18,000 migrant crossings daily, up from our already unmanageable 7,000. At that rate, by the end of Biden’s term, one in five American residents would be here illegally.
Americans don’t need to be told the results of massive illegal immigration. We live it daily. Illegal immigrants by law have access to our emergency rooms. Over half of the newborns at LA County Hospital are newly minted American citizens born to illegal immigrant parents at taxpayer expense.
Illegal immigrants crowd our schools, forcing our already stressed educational system to divert focus to ESL instruction. Moreover, they undercut unskilled American workers and drive down their wages.
They also contribute to our burgeoning crime problem. The number of criminals who have evaded Border Patrol is obviously unknown, but over 40 migrants on the terror watchlist have been apprehended in addition to those who have slipped through. Enough fentanyl has been imported for every single American to have taken a fatal overdose.
But America’s greatest threat from massive illegal immigration isn’t the effect on our safety, our education, nor our healthcare. It’s not the welfare and correctional services illegal immigrants consume. The greatest danger is losing our nationhood.
America is uniquely a nation based not on geography nor blood but on its values and ideals. We have amply demonstrated our ability to absorb large numbers of immigrants who love America, who come because they want to be Americans and share our values and ideals, established in our Declaration and Constitution.
Illegal immigrants, by contrast, begin their relationship by defying a foundational principle that has made the U.S. a magnet for immigrants since its creation: the Rule of Law. This is the belief that we are ruled by laws, not men (people), and that each of us stand as a free and equal individual before the law.
Unfortunately, this tsunami of immigration from socialist autocracies where corruption is the norm is occurring at a time where in America is struggling with growing levels of tribalism. E pluribus unum is fading as many Americans now identify primarily as members of a political, racial, or other group that competes for favors from government.
Assimilation is now scorned as a micro-aggression. America is regarded by its own citizens as oppressive and bigoted.
Tens of millions of illegal immigrants who neither know nor care about America’s defining values don’t bode well for our future. In a decade or two, we’ll undoubtedly begin to hear about how they “deserve” citizenship, they’ve been here a long time, don’t have any other home, and so on. Our unity as Americans will become more fractured.
Americans are historically compassionate and resilient. But it is past time for Americans to reinforce the crucial distinction between illegal and legal immigrants.
It’s not racist or xenophobic to protect our borders from those who ignore our principles but want to enjoy the fruits of our success. It is crucial to the survival of America as we know it.
Loma Verde, California is building a $24 million recreation center with a pool. Forest Lakes, Minnesota is getting a $1.5 million golf clubhouse, while San Antonio is purchasing a $15 million theme park.
These may seem frivolous when rampant inflation is threatening, but never mind, they’re all “free,” a synonym for “paid for by the feds.”
America is awash in cash. Hundreds of other communities are enjoying similar goodies. States in no fiscal difficulty whatsoever have been given billions in budget boosts.
Checks for thousands of dollars have gone to citizens not even claiming to be in need. Millions of Americans receive enough government cash that they can now avoid the inconvenience and degradation of work.
These are the outcomes of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion-dollar American Rescue Plan, although the link to COVID may seem obscure to some. But the bigger point is that our governing culture today sees government spending as a positive good, which may be prompted by any excuse or none at all.
This is a continuation of the age-old argument over the role of government. For those who see government as a benign force that can efficiently, by use of its taxing power, address the common welfare and assure equitable outcomes, every dollar transferred from private to public hands is a positive.
Moreover, Big Government clearly increases the power and prestige of government officials. It creates beneficiaries highly likely to vote for those politicians who “cared” enough to send Other Peoples’ Money their way.
Vastly expanded government has also affected the attitudes of Americans toward the role of government in their lives. To an extent unthinkable to earlier generations, Americans now assume the federal government will take responsibility for such matters as healthcare, education, childcare, and aging parents.
The founders of our Constitution would not be pleased. Their original intent was to create a more just and independent society than the autocracies which had plagued mankind for millennia. Regrettably, Americans have blandly looked on while much of their birthright has been stolen.
Much of the recent confiscation of our nation‘s economic output has come under the pretext of COVID spending. But remember that the COVID financial crisis was a self-inflicted wound. The lockdowns were unprecedented and proved ineffective as a pandemic response strategy, but they precipitated a huge expansion of government power.
America has so far spent $6.4 trillion in COVID relief bills. The $1.9 trillion in the 2021 American Rescue Plan alone was enough to buy every COVID vaccine, ventilator, and hospital in existence. But much of the money went to beyond-obvious pork and to support Democratic political constituencies.
New York, among others, is reportedly sitting on $12.7 billion in unneeded COVID funds that they hope will revert to “unassigned” dollars. The money was pushed out so carelessly that the Labor Department IG estimates $163 billion of the $872 billion in COVID unemployment funds were dissipated in fraud.
The consequences of all this unnecessary spending are predictable and enormous. In 2009, then-President Obama warned against continuing deficits when the debt had doubled from $5 trillion to $10 trillion under his predecessor.
It was $20 trillion by the time he left office, stands at $30 trillion today, and will reach $45 trillion by 2032 according to Biden’s own budget projections.
But trifles like stifling debt and lack of need can’t suppress the political urge to spend. With COVID receding and no extraordinary expenses pending, Joe Biden’s new budget proposal rings in at $5.8 trillion, fully 31% higher than in 2019.
Federal revenues rose 18% in 2021, then 26% this year, but it’s not enough. Biden‘s $2 trillion projected deficit means the debt will have climbed $7 trillion in just the last three years. Multi-trillion-dollar deficits have effectively been normalized.
It could be worse. We narrowly escaped passage of the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better boondoggle. Yet now Biden has the gall to demand $30 billion more for COVID expenses when at least $500 billion from the last COVID relief bill is still unspent.
The mindless, immoral imperative to spend more knows no bounds. Time is running out to reverse course. When will we come to our senses?
Biden’s bungling of the Iranian nuclear negotiations may well go down as the most consequential error in the history of statecraft. He has granted concession after concession to coax Iran into doing what they want to anyway, which is to revive the nuclear treaty (JCPOA) under which they would eventually acquire full nuclear capability.
The foolishness of equipping Iran’s ruling mullahs with nuclear arms is nearly beyond comprehension. These are fanatically religious Muslims, not like the Iranian people or the friendly neighbors most Americans meet. Their heartfelt belief is that life’s only purpose is submission to Allah, and he has already dialed in his directions.
The entire world must eventually become a Muslim caliphate. Take your time but use any and all means necessary to achieve successful jihad, including converting or killing all those under your control, lying when needed, and actively undermining host nations. Weapons of mass destruction would be the ultimate implement.
Yet the JCPOA negotiated with Iran by the Obama administration was full of concessions and loopholes. Iran was theoretically banned from enriching uranium to weapons grade, but enforcement was lax, inspections had to be announced beforehand, and sanctions for violations were ignored.
Worse, the agreement included a 10-year sunset after which all limits were off. The Obama administration was so eager to accommodate (remember the $1.9 billion cash on pallets shipped secretly to seal the deal?) they essentially created a framework assuring Iran’s future nuclear capability.
Fortunately, the JCPOA was never ratified by the Senate, so Trump was able to cancel it, which he did. Progress in nuclear development was slowed. Tough economic sanctions were imposed for violations, crippling Iran’s economy.
By the conclusion of Trump’s tenure, the Iranian people were growing restive and were protesting. Iran’s oppression against both America and their regional neighbors was stymied for lack of funding.
But Biden and his handlers could only see the hand of Trump in the success and therefore it had to be reversed. Now Biden is frantically conceding away, preparing to sign an agreement even worse than Obama’s infamously one-sided pact.
Biden’s proposed deal would intentionally weaken the enforcement structure needed to prevent Iran’s nuclear program development. Their illegal infrastructure housing the program would be effectively ignored.
Biden would also lift the economic sanctions in place, giving Iran $100 billion sorely needed to reboot its terrorism program. Propping up Iran’s economy is a huge favor to the ruling autocrats, too.
Almost unbelievably, Biden is assuring that Russia is also a beneficiary of the deal. Yes, that Russia, the one the whole free world is trying to weaken and punish to end their brutal, unprovoked assault on Ukraine.
Biden effectively put Russia in charge of the negotiations, where they serve as go-between, since the Iranians refuse to negotiate directly with us. In turn, Russia is demanding that Russian – Iranian trade be exempted from the sanctions imposed in response to the Ukraine invasion. Russia will effectively have a “sanctions-aversion hub” so its atrocities can continue.
Further, Biden is apparently offering an “inherent guarantee,” providing that if there is a claimed breach of the agreement by future administrations, Iran can resume full-scale development of their military nuclear capability. One way or the other, Joe will ensure their nukes.
Finally, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is the agent for Iran’s long running proxy war which has included hundreds of terrorist attacks on military bases, civilians, and ships at sea and killed hundreds of Americans. Biden‘s brainstorm is to rescind the IRGC terrorist designation, limiting the rights of victims, including the right to sue for damages.
Over 1,000 American Gold star families have written Biden urging him not to further empower the terrorists who killed their family members. No response has been received.
For all these concessions, Biden has received nearly nothing. Instead, Iran keeps “moving the goalposts,” testing the limits of his gullibility. Observers are reportedly astonished at the Iranians’ improbable success.
Our leadership’s weakness, incoherence, and appeasement are leading us into an extremely dangerous position. An unhinged, fanatical regional power that chants “Death to America” will soon have nuclear capability and empowered allies.
I don’t know about you, but the first time I heard the slogan “Black Lives Matter” I thought it was, well…curious. Whoever said otherwise these days? Wasn’t that obvious?
I soon discovered the depths of my naïveté. The tip-off was realizing that “All Lives Matter” was not a more inclusive iteration of the same concept, but its opposite—racist fighting words. People were vilified and fired for saying them.
It turned out that BLM was a “social justice” organization focused primarily on “intervening in violence inflicted on black communities by the state and vigilantes,” i.e. police.
But this wasn’t your typical well-intentioned social advocacy group. Its founders were Marxist activists. BLM’s goals included not only stirring racial violence, but destruction of the nuclear family and eliminating capitalism.
BLM started as a loose confederation of underfunded organizers. But their fortunes changed after George Floyd’s death in 2020. Suddenly, radical racism became a lucrative business. Over $90 million came pouring in, even though BLM did no solicitation and was not even IRS qualified to receive it.
BLM became wildly popular. Its tenets became influential in crafting Democratic party policy. Corporate executives, ever vigilant to burnish their woke credentials, praised it and donated lavishly. Sports teams stitched BLM onto their uniforms.
BLM initially parked the money with sister organizations who had IRS certification. After BLM’s nonprofit status was established, $66.5 million was immediately transferred into its account.
Here’s where the story gets murky. BLM cofounder Patrisse Cullors issued an “impact report” in February 2021, claiming operating expenses of $8.4 million and $21.7 million in grants to local affiliates, but no further detail was provided. The rest of the funding was unaccounted for. Moreover, BLM has yet to file their IRS annual report required last November.
Meanwhile, Cullors resigned last May amid reports that, absent any other known sources of income, she had purchased millions of dollars in prime real estate. The two activists she appointed to assume the helm of BLM declined the offer.
The worm had turned. Charity Watch described BLM as a “ghost ship full of treasure with no captain, no crew no and no clear direction.” Other philanthropy watchdogs also withdrew their endorsements.
Washington and California ordered BLM to cease fundraising and Amazon kicked BLM off its charity platform. Antagonizing California, Washington, and Amazon had to be unprecedented for a radical leftist outfit!
The BLM scam, wasting the funds, was actually a good thing. According to the website Candid, nonprofits devoted to “racial equity” raised $25 billion total post-George Floyd. Yet the “accomplishments” of these groups have been demonstrably harmful to blacks.
Their main policy goal was to “defund the police,” the prime cause of the everyday genocide purportedly inflicted on young black men. That didn’t turn out well.
In 2019, 7,777 Blacks were murdered, 53% of all homicide victims. After the “defund the police” movement succeeded in jurisdictions across the country, 9,941 blacks were murdered the next year, indicating 2,000 lives were lost due to a failed ideology.
Blacks are repeatedly informed that thousands of unarmed black victims are killed by police each year, but the numbers tell a different story. As Heather Mac Donald points out, in 2019, the year 7,777 blacks were killed, police accidentally shot a total of nine unarmed blacks, one for each of the 800 murder victims. Decimating and denigrating the thin blue line was a tragic mistake, especially for Blacks themselves.
BLM can’t be reformed because it is based on the concept that there is social good in driving the races apart, since one is inherently predisposed to oppressing the other. Media and academic elites, playing upon the historical realities of black victimhood and white guilt, insist racism is deeply ingrained in American culture, the core influence in our history.
Americans must decide. Do we concede the future of permanent tribalism advanced by BLM, the 1619 Project, and Critical Race Theory?
Or do we still believe in the vision of Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and MLK that Americans can achieve another historic first. We can establish a multi-racial society where race really doesn’t matter and we all share the Dream of living united as Americans.