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#PushBack Against the St Paul Mayor & City Council, and School Board Now

How much is too much?

It’s a good question to ask of the elected and appointed officials in the City Called Saint Paul Minnesota.

If left up to them with no outcry from residents of the “most livable city” they will steal from you, leave you with no way to defend yourself from the gangs, violent criminals, the demolition union, the Green-Organized Trash Overlords, and Housing Code Zealots.

The Mayor, City Council, and St Paul School Board show by their actions they disrespect EVERYONE in Saint Paul by strangling businesses big or independent, oppressing the poor, the wealthy, and pay attention to special interests lining the pockets of elected and appointed officials.

The Mayor and this City Council despite having a document to guide their leadership, The City Charter; they ignore what it says even when judges or the Minnesota Supreme Court rulings tell them to let the citizens decide on a referendum. Our Mayor doesn’t understand the ruling, perhaps he should read The City Charter.

The St Paul Public Schools are owned by the Teachers Union which resists any change to teach the basics to many students living in families living at or barely above the poverty level. This isn’t the most livable city but rather one of the most UNLIVABLE Cities in Minnesota where accountability has taken a permanent vacation.

When elected I, Greg Copeland, intend to represent all citizens in Ward 6, whether you voted for me or not. Your rights to property, voting, and civil rights will be respected as they aren’t now.

Join with me to #PushBack against Business as Usual Crony Politics and bring Equal Opportunity to all.

Greg Copeland on Affordable Housing at Forum

The following is from Questions and Answers from Polina Montes de Oca, the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity Neighborhood Revitalization Program Manager, and answers from the original Vote NO candidate for Ward 6 City Council.  The Forum was to be held on October 5, 2019.


The City needs to re-do-the- tool -box. The regulatory powers of the city are simply not Neighborhood Friendly. The City’s regulatory tools are wedded to  a model that still works for the large property developers that are making millions developing the Green Line Corridor with their army of architects, planners, lawyers, finance experts and union tradespeople.  The City is set up to cater to the needs of the Big Boys; not neighborhoods and individuals or small business people.

We need a new model to plan and permit the rehabilitation of the single family and duplex structures that could help fill the gap in the affordable housing crisis in the short term if the City Council is willing to make the policy changes need to accommodate individual homeowner/investors and small business rehabbers. Given the hundreds of vacant homes in the City the City Council must be willing to operate outside the regulatory model that has helped to create and perpetuate the current problem. Saint Paul is not Detroit and we must stop demolishing homes as part of some final solution that keeps people from living in an affordable home that they can call their own.

The City of Saint Paul in addition to the $2 million Housing Trust Fund, also provides Capital Improvement Budget dollars to about a dozen neighborhood  not for profits to develop housing opportunities with about $3 million in 2019 and $2 million for 2020.

None of this is enough to make a significant difference in the current housing crisis. The City must attract outside dollars to create the affordable housing stock we need and to do it we must get the statutory caps on Housing Tax Credits used by the MN Housing Finance Agency to sell tax free housing bonds to private investors removed during this crisis. How is it in the public interest to limit

private investment in affordable housing? It isn’t!

Poverty has made it’s home on the East Side and their is no Cavalry that is coming rescue us from this man-made disaster. We need to see the 200 vacant buildings on the East Side as resources that can be turned into homes with affordable mortgages for which the City should remove all barriers to rehabilitation, such as eliminating building permit fees and other regulatory costs.  We need a special unit in Planning and Economic Development to manage our way out of this inventory of over 500 vacant buildings city wide and that does not mean relying on bulldozers and clam-shells to continue to tear down this housing stock. I want to see the City be creative and wise with it’s resources to leverage all other available funds such as Livable Community dollars from the Met Council. Without looking outside the status quo box we will be adding more houses that were homes to the vacant property list.

Density is not an issue in the short term.  People who have invested in their neighborhoods deserve the City’s protection of their investment. On the East Side we have always welcomed more dense housing options, as the current number of such properties gives testimony too.  When developers have wanted to build high density buildings we have welcomed them and as a senior single family homeowner I certainly support building more senior friendly buildings, which would also serve a young family that needs a big home and backyard.

Housing quality is always an issue in an area with many 100 year old homes as  well as post World War II homes and a large percentage of people living in poverty. These updating and maintenance issues present for both homeowners and landlords. This is an area where we have looked to neighborhood based organizations to play a role assisting low income homeowners with forgivable loans or other financing to make it possible for people to stay in their homes. We should continue these programs for homeowners, working families and seniors as well as explore new options for assisting landlords finance repairs to keep families in safe homes and apartments.

 

 

 

 

Remembering Black Hawk Down 26 years later at the Polls

Saint Paul Minnesota recently adopted Mogadishu Somalia as a sister city thanks due to Appointed Ward 6 City Councilman Kassim Busuri who lived there.

26 years ago on October 3rd and 4th, a routine mission turned bloody for the soldiers of the 75th Rangers in Mogadishu. Our soldiers were surrounded, shot at, and eventually some of them, their dead bodies were dragged through the streets after their bodies were desecrated by the citizens of Mogadishu.

Here are first hand recollections from an Army Ranger who went back to Mogadishu, Jeff Struecker. His and other Rangers actions on that fateful two days led to a book and later a movie based on the book of the same name called, “Black Hawk Down.”

The movie short shows St Paul and Mogadishu have similar poor roads, violence in the streets, and distressed buildings in it. The big difference is Saint Paul Residents have a choice on who they want to be leaders by voting for them in elections and the Somalis in Mogadishu do not. Why would Saint Paul leaders make this rash decision to embrace a culture a people who have nothing in common with us? Should ask the appointed councilman who disappears from his duty without telling anyone or his constituents and cites a religious holiday so as to be a let down for residents in Ward 6.

The fact that only two of the eleven Sister Cities to St Paul share Judeo-Christian values with the majority of Citizens of St Paul (Modena Italy, and Manzanillo Mexico) shows how out of touch the City Council is with its citizens.

Seriously, why does Appointed Councilman Kassim Busuri want us to embrace a city full of terrorists?  Is St Paul supposed to lower its standards even further to embrace Mogadishu standards?  It’s been 26 years and buildings our soldiers shot up defending themselves are still standing nor repaired.

Embracing a people who dragged our dead soldiers through the streets is morally unthinkable. Remember Busuri’s Mogadishu values on November 5th.

Greg Copeland Supports All St Paul Strong Principles

John Mannillo, the Chair of St Paul Strong asked St Paul Ward 6 City Council Candidate Greg Copeland whether he supports the 6 Principles of St Paul Strong.  Below are the principles of St Paul Strong, and Greg’s answer.


Saint Paul STRONG

The Six Principles of Saint Paul STRONG are:

SAFETY: We pledge to make public safety our top priority, maintaining efficient and effective first responder systems and enhancing citizen/community relationships with police, fire and other city departments.

TRUST: We will work to make sure full and informed citizen participation comes before decisions are made —not after—and put the interests of all the people, including the affected communities and the intended beneficiaries, ahead of personal or partisan interests.

RESPONSIBLE: We believe city officials must be accountable to all citizens—including persons of color, seniors, persons with disabilities, low-income residents, immigrants and refugees—and that they must be fully engaged to the public, not parties, and must respond to citizen concerns in a timely and nonpartisan fashion.

 OPEN: We will break down the barriers that exclude citizen participation and bring decision-making back into the public arena where it belongs; ensuring taxpayers are fully informed and have an opportunity to participate meaningfully in decision making.

NEIGHBORHOODS: We pledge to strengthen community voices and to work—across ward boundaries— to foster stronger neighborhoods with equal right and access to the resources and amenities of our city.

GENERATIONS: Understanding that our city was built by generations of people who loved it as we do, we pledge to build a stronger, safer and more beautiful city for the generations that will come after us.

Greg Copeland’s Answer

I remain in full support of the six Saint Paul Strong Principles outlined.

Obviously the decline in city enforcement of the law, arrest and prosecution  of criminals by the Carter Administration is resulting in the impression that some neighborhoods will be abandoned as they were by long term homeowners and new residents who no longer feel safe in Saint Paul, as was the case in the early 1990’s when drugs, vice, quality of life crimes and more occurred with out satisfactory action by elected City Leadership.

Sheriff Bob Fletcher is taking action to engage and support Saint Paul Neighbors to make the effort to fight criminal behavior. I would suggest and expansion of the language in the Neighborhoods section to reach not only beyond Wards, but to County Commissioners to coordinate their arterial road construction and maintenance program with the City of Saint Paul to Fix Our Damn Roads!  All entities must be willing to re-evaluate how we are using all Tax revenues for  transportation, including a discussion of filling the Gaps in our existing Metro Transit Bus System and more effective ways to complement and coordinate taxing authority and funding with federal, state and metro governments.

Critical to making any progress significant reforms is a strict Open Government Policy that does not view citizens as the enemy, but rather the catalyst for change and citizen satisfaction as a measure of successful and competent governance. The City Council and Port Authority have to start publishing complete agendas for all their meetings and broadcast these meetings live on Government Cable TV.

Thank you and the other leaders of Saint Paul Strong for the non-partisan leadership provided to bring a much needed Watchful Eye to Capitol City Governance.

Greg Copeland

Saint Paul City Council Candidate Ward 6

                                  

 

 

 

Saint Paul STRONG is a nonpartisan community-led organization dedicated to improving open and representative government in Saint Paul.

MinnPost News Q & A with Greg Copeland

It is long past time To Take Out The Trash!  Being a proud original signer of the Citizens 2018 Petition seeking the Referendum on Ordinance 18-39, I will Vote NO!
St. Paul voters are ready to get rid of this Costly, Inefficient and Problem Plagued Mandatory Trash Collection failed experiment. Residents were promised by City Council lower rates, than those offered under the four decades old competitive private hauler system; that promise was broken, costs are $590 for families with the just one large cart.
Seniors, zero-wasters and low income people that had previously shared the cost of trash collection with their neighbors for years, are now prohibited under Ordinance18-39 from sharing a cart with their neighbors to reduce collection cost.
The City mandated everyone had to pay for a Cart, and citizens with the smallest carts soon found themselves being billed at a higher per unit cost than the large 96 gallon carts. The City’s perverse pricing scheme violates Minnesota’s long standing environmental solid waste policy by giving the biggest garbage producers a discounted rate.
Those who create the least trash should be paying less, not more for garbage collection.

What does the debate over trash say about St. Paul politics?

Saint  Paul Citizens never before had to go to the Minnesota Supreme Court to place a referendum on the ballot.
The Mayor and the City Council threw our City Charter in the trash, along with the Citizens Certified Referendum Petition signed by over 6000 voters; in an incredible abuse of executive and legislative  power to block the referendum for being put on the ballot for a vote by the citizens.
Even after the Supreme Court ruling went against the Mayor and City Council in an act of immature political pique, they both conspired to insult and  intimidate Saint Paul Voters in a unique act of democratic process suppression, by voting for a 22% increase in the City Property Tax Levy; declaring there will be a $27 Million penalty in the form of higher property taxes, if voters dare to vote NO and repeal the city trash program.
Four days later the Central Committee of the St. Paul DFL ratified their Mayor and City Council’s usurpation of the Truth In Taxation Statute for political purposes; and put out it’s edict that loyal party members, in what otherwise is supposed to be a non-partisan referendum, which was put on the ballot by 6000 city voters and through an Order of Minnesota’s highest Court of Law, are directed to vote to keep the City’s trash and tax system.

Could the issue, alone, be a driving factor behind some voters’ decisions? Could it get someone new elected to the council?

Absolutely to both questions!  A NO Vote will not only Trash the mandatory collection and tax system, but will Put Saint Paul Back On Track, by restoring our civic tradition of Good Government with a New City Council that has respect for the City Charter and the City’s Citizens!

In Ward 6 I am the one candidate: to sign the 2018 Referendum Petition; I have refused to pay Waste Management’s bills based on the City Charter requirement that ordinances are suspended upon referendum petition certification and the subsequent tax assessments are without legal authority; I have made my opposition, and/or Voting NO a full part of my campaign for City Council in print media, radio and television.


(the other candidates who are voting no are possibly doing so because momentum is leaning in the direction of #VoteNo)

League of Women Voters St Paul Guide Q & A

Morgan Hess, a Macalester College student and the Youth Vote Project Coordinator at the League of Women Voters St. Paul was putting together the LWVSP’s voter guide for the 2019 St. Paul local elections.  Ms Hess wanted to ask Greg Copeland a few questions for information for the voter guide.  The questions are below with Greg Copeland, the Original Ward 6 Vote NO Candidate’s answers.

What are your biggest priorities?

Greg Copeland’s Priorities:
  • Public Safety maintain current staffing level of the St. Paul Police Department.
  • Public Works Capital Budget $36 Million to address Streets Decay Crisis.
  • Protect Saint Paul City Charter and Citizens Rights to Referendum and Initiative.
  • Eliminate Barriers to Housing Construction, Jobs and Business Investment to Reduce Poverty in Saint Paul.

How will you work to address the housing shortage in St. Paul?

Greg Copeland on Housing:
  • Stop demolition of existing housing and create incentives for redevelopment of existing housing stock including apartments.
  • Work to eliminate statutory caps on Housing Tax Credit Investment Programs to attract maximum private investment to public housing bonds issued by the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency to address the housing supply crisis market demand for new affordable housing.
  • Create incentives for Saint Paul and other public employees to buy homes in  the Capitol City to build and strengthen our community and economy.

How do you plan to work with and engage residents to craft policy?

Greg Copeland’s Public Policy: 
  • Broadcast ALL City Council meetings on the City’s Cable TV station.
  • Add a Public Hearing to the Second Reading on all City Ordinances.
  • Schedule Second Reading Public Hearings on City ordinances to evenings so working people can directly participate.
  • Hold City Council Meetings in neighborhoods on development and other local interest matters.

How will you address the issue of distrust between residents and public safety officers?

Greg Copeland’s Police Community Relations
  • Support funding for increased Safe Summer Nights Events and other community building activities.
  • Broadcast Public Sessions of City Police Over-Sight Hearings and Meetings.
  • Schedule regular community forums in the Wards with the Mayor, City Council and Police Chief as well as local Police Commander.

The questions from Ms Hess were sent on September 27, 2019 for the purposes of putting the answers in the League of Women Voters of Saint Paul MN’s Voter’s guide.

 

Grid 54 Where Are You? Runaway Crime in St Paul

Greg Copeland lives in the Payne Phalen Neighborhood. If you are talking on the phone with him there’s a good chance you’ll hear in the background, a siren of some sort. In some areas of Saint Paul what type of siren depends on where you are, for example along the Green Line LRT a siren is probably an ambulance for the senior living apartments along the avenue.

In the blocks surrounding Greg’s house it is probably several Saint Paul Police Squad Cars because it is the area of Saint Paul with the highest number of violent crimes. How does one know this area has the most violent crimes? It is because Saint Paul Police Department (SPPD) keeps track of all sorts of calls it gets and crimes by using what they call a Crime Statistics Grid. On the Stpaul.gov site you can find out the types of crimes and the number of crimes reported each month. This tool used to be easy to use until just before Melvin Carter III got into office when they upgraded it into a hard to use resource. Just like St Paul Government to create problems where there were none (see organized garbage system which is a violation of the City Charter).

When you hear a siren in St Paul think of the 5 St Paul Police Officers who weren’t hired by Mayor Carter.

Grid 54

Greg Copeland lives in Crime Statistics Grid 54, or Grid 54 for short. Remember Ray Widstrand getting beat up and left for dead? Just south of Grid 54 in Grid 94. On the day Mayor Carter was elected there was a shooting in Grid 54. The Good Samaritan Shooting of Javier Sanmiguel Yanez, Grid 54. (Transcript of the 911 call of the Good Samaritan shooting).

Crime Statistics Grids of St Paul

Usually around the time an incumbent mayor is running for office a “Blue Surge,” is set up in Grid 54.  They know where the crime is, it is just the incumbents aren’t enthusiastic about combating crime like they should and to the level we citizens expect.

The cops have success and failures in their daily fight against crime. The current mayor believes arrests are due to racism and has figuratively shot out the tires in the police budget in St Paul. The police shouldn’t have to fight with City Hall to get help for a basic service the city needs. The City of St Paul needs to prioritize safety for its citizens above non-essential projects they like to steer to their cronies.

People who believe St Paul can go with fewer police officers or put real estate values or other issues above good policing and prosecution aren’t dealing with reality. Ray Widstrand was beat up within sight of the Eastern District Police Station a block and a half away.

JDAI (Catch and Release)

The gangsters, know how to use the system to their advantage. They know of a program run by the Feds called Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative or JDAI. When a juvenile is arrested they get a score for what crime they committed and the circumstances. If their score isn’t high enough they are turned out to the streets or the squad car they are in. At the Ray Widstrand Crime Meeting in Fall of 2013, a resident of Grid 54 accused the cops of a Catch and Release of a youth. The police denied this took place but it did happen, and it happens everyday. The gangs know this here and across the country and gangs use juveniles to commit many of the violent crimes in St Paul. JDAI has some great stats because the fewer data points means better stats. During Barack Obama’s Presidency he stressed fewer arrests of “people of color.”

Stand With the St Paul Police Department

The Police in St Paul do a dangerous job of protecting the citizens of St Paul.  For too long the City of St Paul has undercut the self-less sacrifice of the brave men and women of the St Paul Police Department.  They need the resources to do their jobs such as safety & communication equipment, and more specialized officers.  If the Police Chief asks for 5 more police officers, then we need 5 more.  The Police Chief knows more than the Mayor or City Council what the police department needs.

The Prosecutors and Judges need to keep the criminals, especially the violent ones off the streets of St Paul in support of the Police.

Pew: 75% of Americans Have Trouble Discerning Between Fact and Opinion

 

A few years ago, the ACT released a study showing that K-12 teachers and college instructors believe discerning between fact and opinion is one of the most important things students can learn. Unfortunately, less than 20 percent of first-year college students are able to tell the difference between these two items.

As it turns out, discerning between fact and opinion doesn’t appear to be the sole problem of millennials. According to a recent Pew report, other Americans struggle with this task as well. Pew explains:

“A new Pew Research Center survey of 5,035 U.S. adults examines a basic step in that process: whether members of the public can recognize news as factual – something that’s capable of being proved or disproved by objective evidence – or as an opinion that reflects the beliefs and values of whoever expressed it.”

The study posed ten statements to participants, five of which were factual, five of which were opinions. (Take the quiz here.) Only one in four adults were able to correctly identify all the factual statements.

Pew Fact Opinion

Such news, of course, is quite alarming, particularly in an age when we are saturated with headlines and opinions from everyone under the sun through various social media channels. None of us want to be taken in by false ideas… but how can we avoid doing so given the culture in which we live?

The author and educator Richard Weaver (1910-1963) offered some thoughts on this subject in his book Ideas Have Consequences. According to Weaver, the continual bombardment of information, whether it be fact or opinion, is keeping us from discerning the core, root principles which can help us sort our thoughts:

“The whole tendency of modern thought, one might say its whole moral impulse, is to keep the individual busy with endless induction. Since the time of Bacon the world has been running away from, rather than toward, first principles, so that, on the verbal level, we see ‘fact’ substituted for ‘truth,’ and on the philosophic level, we witness attack upon abstract ideas and speculative inquiry.”

Weaver goes on to explain that even those who are able to recognize their facts may be missing the deeper meaning and thoughts which underlie and support them. The trick, notes Weaver, is not just to accumulate knowledge and facts, but to really know how to use them effectively:

It is not what people can read; it is what they do read, and what they can be made, by any imaginable means, to learn from what they read, that determine the issue of this noble experiment. We have given them a technique of acquisition; how much comfort can we take in the way they employ it? In a society where expression is free and popularity is rewarded they read mostly that which debauches them and they are continuously exposed to manipulation by controllers of the printing machine…. It may be doubted whether one person in three draws what may be correctly termed knowledge from his freely chosen reading matter. The staggering number of facts to which he today has access serves only to draw him away from consideration of first principles, so that his orientation becomes peripheral.”

If you are one who can take Pew’s fact and opinion quiz and successfully pass, then you are a step ahead of three-quarters of Americans. The question is, what will you do with that knowledge? Will you use it simply as a badge of honor and superiority… or are you one of the even fewer number of Americans willing to go deeper and consider the difficult thoughts, the challenging ideas, and the other aspects from which these facts stem?

Perhaps it’s time we start training both ourselves and our children to do the latter.

[Image Credit: Flickr-Maarten van Maanen CC BY-SA 2.0]

This post Pew: 3 in 4 Americans Have Trouble Discerning Between Fact and Opinion was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Annie Holmquist. We copied this post which was originally published on June 19. 2018.

 

Why Are More Colleges Turning a Blind Eye to Cheating?

Imagine that you’re the president of a community college. To justify your institution’s existence and your enviable salary, you must convince the board of trustees that the institution is meeting—possibly even exceeding—certain productivity benchmarks: for instance, a threshold number of new enrolments, solid graduation rates and satisfactory retention of students from year to year.

The ethical dilemma you face is whether to maintain academic integrity standards in order to make a principled stand against student cheating or relax those standards in order to artificially inflate key productivity figures—for instance, graduation and retention rates. Which would you choose?

Ever since higher education leaders and executive administrators adopted the business model, the scenario I’ve described is no longer so outlandish. In fact, it’s playing out at Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC), a community college system in Central Pennsylvania serving over 70,000 students at five campuses and in its online program, led by President John Sygielski.

HACC is no stranger to mismanagement and corruption. Poor administrative oversight has led its accreditor to twice issue warnings and temporarily suspend the community college’s accreditation. Almost a year ago HACC’s Vice President Nancy Rockey embezzled over $200k in school funds. She is now serving a federal prison sentence.

I inquired about the truth of rumors that HACC regularly conducts fake or rigged investigations into alleged violations of its academic integrity policy. I published the results of my inquiry in an article on the site Truth-out.org  In addition, I made an open records request under Pennsylvania’s Right to Know law, asking HACC to disclose the details of one specific investigation to which I was privy. Unsurprisingly, HACC chose to claim an exemption so that it could hide the truth. I appealed the decision to the PA Office of Open Records.

While the appeal was eventually defeated, it revealed that HACC’s ersatz investigation of alleged student cheating involved merely examining the student’s transcripts, not vetting their academic work. How could this constitute a good faith investigation?

Presently, HACC’s accreditor, Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), is investigating the matter. The accreditor seeks to know, one, whether the institution failed to enforce its own academic integrity policy and, two, whether it afforded adequate safeguards to prevent student ghosting (someone other than the student taking exams and tests in the student’s place, a common practice for cheating in online courses). President John Sygielski has been sent a series of questions by MSCHE that he must answer pursuant to a possible third warning and suspension of HACC’s accreditation.

According to PennLive reporter Jan Murphy, Sygielski or “Ski” (as he likes to be called) has faced “no shortage of adversity” during his tenure as HACC’s president. Close adherence to the business model has led HACC to wade into morally murky waters. He and other college leaders should be challenged to answer a single question: Does their drive to increase productivity justify lowering academic integrity standards?

[Image Credit: Deviant Art]

This post Why More Colleges Are Turning a Blind Eye to Cheating was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Shane Ralston.

http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/sites/all/themes/ito/js/ito-repub.js

Owen Rickert: How Identity Politics Ruined My High School

A former high school student from Minnesota explains how social justice politics ruined the school he once loved.
Student: How Identity Politics Ruined My High School

Owen Rickert always loved his school.

The Blake School, a private college prep school, located in Hopkins, Minnesota, was a place he woke up excited to go to each morning. And then, about four years ago, something changed.

“Slowly the unification of our great community began to deteriorate,” said Rickert, who had attended Blake since kindergarten.

Rickert, currently a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, explained what happened to his school during his senior presentation last spring. In a nine-minute speech titled “Division,” Rickert explained how the Blake School’s new emphasis on race, gender, and privilege created fissures between students and kindled resentment.

“White. Black. Asian. Gay. Straight. It never mattered before. Yet now, we are all identified by what group we were assigned,” Rickert said. “We didn’t assign these; the school and society did.”

Where previously students had learned a core curriculum and were taught how to think, students suddenly found themselves being fed an agenda.

“We are not here to be manipulated to think a certain way,” Rickert said. “That is called indoctrination.”

As an example, Rickert cited the first day of school. He said students were required to introduce themselves by their pronouns.

“If someone sees themselves as a gender other than what they were born, I don’t care,” Rickert said. “But forcing me to participate in something where I have to proclaim what gender I am has no place in a school classroom.”

The school’s new emphasis on race and gender theory created an environment in which many students no longer felt comfortable to talk about and share ideas. Lectures on “white privilege” in particular seemed to chafe Rickert.

“All of a sudden the suggestion is put in front of every white person in this school that racism is inherent in them because of the color of their skin,” Rickert said. “White privilege equals shut-up; anything you say has no meaning because you are privileged.”

Rickert noted that school officials at Blake, a private institution, can run the school however they choose. Parents, similarly, are free to remove their children if they wish. He simply expressed his hope that the school he loved would rediscover its ideals.

“I’ve had many incredible teachers that helped me along the way, and for them I am grateful,” he said. “My wish for the Blake School is that it becomes what it used to be. A school where the students accepted each other’s differences, and the leaders of the school didn’t force their political agendas on us.”

We’ve noted these education trends at Intellectual Takeout before (here, here, here, here, and here), so many readers likely are familiar with the issues to which Rickert speaks.

But I was impressed to see a young man share them so clearly and calmly. Most of all, I was impressed with Rickert’s courage. There is perhaps not a single issue in America that is more difficult to challenge. Orthodoxy on social justice is expected today, at least in educated, corporate, and upper-class circles.

Those who challenge this orthodoxy know they place their careers and future prospects in jeopardy. If you doubt this, just look at what happened to Google’s James Damore or Apple’s Denise Young Smith.

Pushing back on this orthodoxy is not easy. People may loathe the ideology, but they are also afraid of it, something Rickert learned.

“As I was putting this speech together and discussing it with my friends, I was in disbelief in how many people actually agree with me,” he said. “Many have similar viewpoints but are afraid to say anything.”

I don’t believe this is some throwaway line.  I say this because I’ve experienced the same thing.

I get emails and calls from people “fed up” with the divisiveness of identity politics. Yet when I ask people to go on record for a story, they almost always decline.

This won’t do.

Writing articles about school indoctrination is all well and good, but it’s going to take parents speaking out about these issues at the local level to bring school officials back to their senses.

If parents are serious about seeing their children get a real education instead of divisive social justice mantra, they’ll need to find their voices—and their courage—like Owen Rickert did.

Convictions, even if they are right, are worth nothing if one is afraid to share them.


Should School Choice Matter To Christians?

Back in the day when Christianity was a part of the public school system our students achieved and had a balance of knowledge, morality and both of which help to understand who God is.  God is the source of knowledge.  Since 1962 & 1963 when Prayer and Bible Study was taken from public schools respectively our students achievements have taken a nose dive.  Student & Teachers moral values are scattered widely. Perhaps to help make all students achieve to the extent of their God given talents and to help them live fulfilling lives free of moral problems we should welcome Judeo-Christian values and teaching back to public schools.

The article below is from the website MyFaithVotes.org it is from a three part series about school board elections.  It was posted on October 26, 2017.  We’ve not changed it.  ~~Publius Jr


Article 2 of 3. [My Faith Votes] created this 3-part series on school boards elections to address some critical issues that every voter should consider in their local school board election.

Should School Choice matter to Christians?

There seems to be a giant wall of division between those who defend the current state of education (anchored by the teachers union) and those who believe in school choice, by way of vouchers, special programs, and educational savings accounts. As people of faith, should we take a position on school choice?

This is an issue that many believe is too complicated, better left to the educational experts and our government officials to solve. Yet, it’s an issue that gambles with the future of our children. And more importantly, it’s one that scripture speaks to clearly. In fact, at the core this is not a political issue – it’s a Biblical one.

School choice should matter to Christians for three primary reasons.

1. Choice Matters Because Parents Are Best Equipped to Care for their Children.

Nobody knows what a student needs to thrive educationally better than the student’s parents. A government or institution cannot possibly care for children in the same way that a father and/or mother can. We witness a great decline of society when we substitute the judgment of “experts” and bureaucratic systems for the judgment of parents.

Children are entrusted to parents as a gift from God. Psalms 127:3, “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” A gift that comes with great responsibility.

Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Deuteronomy 6:6-7: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

3 John 1:4: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

When parents can’t afford to live in a “good” school district, or don’t have the means to private school or homeschool, and are told where their children must attend school, based solely on their zip code, their freedom to educate their children as they see best is restricted. Their parental authority is compromised.

“We’ve allowed ourselves, as parents, to be bumped from the ‘table.’ We’ve allowed policy makers, school administrators, and self-interested teachers’ unions to decide what’s best for our children. This needs to change.” – Pastor Jim Garlow (Well Versed, page 78).

2. Choice Matters Because Every Child is Unique.

We know from both research and common sense that every child is different and unique, created by God (Jeremiah 1:5). Cookie-cutter factory models don’t work for every child.

In recent decades there has been some movement towards school choice as a few states have begun to slightly crack the door open for limited educational freedom through the allowing of charter schools.

These charter schools give us a glimpse of what education would look like in a free market educational system.

These are schools that are often differentiated by their special emphasis in areas such as the arts, mathematics and the sciences, classical learning, technology, and a hands-on educational model approach.

In most traditional public school environments students are expected to learn at a pre-determined pace, mass-educated, moved along through the system according to standardized tests and curriculum. For many parents whose children have special needs or special giftings and talents there are no other educational options. As one of the most advanced societies in the world, we should be doing better. It should stir us to know that our educational system is rooted in socialistic and communistic ideals rather than innovative free market ideals where opportunity abounds, choice is the currency and prosperity is the result.

One more note: This is no reflection on the incredible teachers who have dedicated their lives to helping our children learn. Rather, it is an example of a broken educational system in America.

3. School Choice Empowers the Underprivileged

Here are the facts:

  • 50.7 Million students attended public elementary and secondary schools in the fall of 2017 (NCES)
  • Of those attending public schools, roughly 2.5 Million students attend charter schools in the United States (Business Insider)
  • Experts estimate that around 3.5 Million students are homeschooled in the United States (Business Insider)
  • 4.5 Million students attend private elementary and secondary schools (ONPE 2014 survey)

The bottom line, the vast majority of students in America receive a public school education. It’s reasonable to assume that many did not have a say in the matter because they lacked the economic means to live in a “good” public school district, to attend a private school, or to be homeschooled. Nor were they lucky enough to win a lottery to attend a charter school.

This is educational discrimination and it is simply not fair. This is un-American in every way.

Pastor Jim Garlow in his book Well Versed said it best,

“We have an educational system that discriminates against the single mother and the poor, by limiting options. It’s a system that allows wealth to determine a child’s education. If you are fortunate enough to buy a home in a good school district, your child has a better chance of receiving a strong education.

“However, if you cannot afford to live in a good district or pay for a private school, you have no choice but to send your child to the school located in your neighborhood, even if it’s a poor performing school.” (Well Versed, page 77).

Educational Choice is just one way of extending care and compassion for the less fortunate. (1 John 3:17, Philippians 2:4, Deuteronomy 15:11).

If we as Christians believe all people are equal in the sight of God and should be afforded the same freedoms regardless of economic status, then it is our responsibility to care about the education of all people, regardless of their zip code. It is our responsibility to do what we can go give all families a choice in where they educate their children.

Thanks for reading part two of our education series! If you missed it, read last week’s article, “Why Should You Care about Your Local School Board.”

 

What’s Behind the Exodus of Black Students from Public Schools?

 

For a number of years, public education has been of utmost importance to those in the black community. This is partially because black access to equal public education was a hard-won victory procured by the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.

But lately, black families appear to be questioning whether public schooling is the proper education model for their children. This is evident in the rising number of black families choosing to homeschool their children and in the large numbers of African Americans who support choice options such as vouchers and charters.

The most recent evidence of the distrust black families have toward public schools can be seen in Minneapolis. According to The Star Tribune, the district has experienced a heavy exodus in recent years, much of it driven by black families:

“But now one-third of Minneapolis’ school-age children go to charter schools or public schools in other districts, a trend that raises long-term questions about the district’s financial future. Black student flight accounts for more than half of all kids leaving the district, out of proportion with the 43 percent of the school age population they represent.”

Black Students Leave Minneapolis Public Schools

Why is this drain taking place? The Star Tribune mentions three reasons.

1. Poor Environment
According to many black parents, the environments offered by their district public schools are not the type of atmosphere in which they want their children to be. Many are scared by the fights and behavior issues they see and hear about in public schools. Many black families are also headed by single parents, and as such, see the value of putting their children in a smaller, family-like environment which will fill a void in “nurturing.”

2. Dismal Academics
Although the alternative schools to which black families are sending their children are not always high-achieving in the academics department, they often outrank the district schools they left behind:

“On average, math scores for black students are 10 percentage points higher in the schools that Minneapolis black students are leaving for, than for black students staying in the district.”

Clearly, black parents are recognizing that choosing the best possible option, even if that option isn’t the most stellar, is better than leaving their children in a far less rigorous environment.

3. Ignored Parents
Perhaps one of the most interesting reasons cited for the flight from Minneapolis Public Schools is the fact that parents feel they are treated as an after-thought and left in the dark as to how their children are doing:

“Lynda Nwonye is a downtown Minneapolis mom whose son is a fifth-grader at Best Academy, a charter school on the North Side. She moved him there because of her grievances over communication and other things with Minneapolis Public Schools, and said she won’t come back.

The thing that I really like about his school is they give you an overabundance of information,’ she said.”

These three reasons for the black flight from Minneapolis Public Schools are revealing, particularly when viewed in light of school finances.

According to the Minneapolis budget for FY 2017, the district spends almost $24,000 per student. Because many of the alternative schools to which black parents are sending their children are charter schools, the children automatically receive a cut in the tax funding spent on their education. As a 2014 research report explains, Minneapolis charter schools receive 34 percent less funding than their district counterparts. Based on current spending levels, parents that choose to send their student to a Minneapolis charter school take an automatic cut of over $8,000 in funding.

Clearly, black parents are recognizing that it is more valuable to provide their children with a better, safer education which they can actively monitor, rather than one which is amply funded, but doesn’t meet the aforementioned desires.

And as more parents march with their feet and choose alternatives, one can only wonder: Are the days of traditional public schools numbered? Is it time to rethink how we educate American children?


This post What’s Behind the Exodus of Black Students from Public Schools? was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Annie Holmquist.

This was reposted.  The original story was published on September 20, 2017

Greg Copeland Champion of All in His Neighborhood Since 1992

Many people who run for office are prodded by a sitting office holder to run to make sure they hold onto a majority in that organization.  These candidates are what one might call a placeholder.  NASCAR uses placeholders to make sure that some racers can’t get closer to the front–their real goal is to hold back others so that their team members can win the race.

Greg Copeland has lived in the Cook/Payne Avenue neighborhood since 1992 and even without running for office he still is a champion and fighter for his neighbors to live in a safe and secure neighborhood.

The following is from Nextdoor.com neighborhood of Payne-Phalen, written by Greg Copeland in response to an increase in criminal activity in his neighborhood.

“I have lived at my Cook Ave/Payne Ave home since 1992 my neighbor Mark and I are the only two homeowners from that time left on this short block between Edgerton St. & Payne Ave. My alley was blocked by crime tape for many hours over the weekend behind my place and my neighbors duplex and the homeowner across the alley who is next to 615 Lawson where multiple police units were present for hours blocking access from the Salvation Army Buildings on Payne through to Edgerton St. The SPPD Crime Data Base reported an “Aggravated Assault/ Firearm”. The owner boarded up three windows Monday.

Police Reports made two weeks before about possible criminal activity at this address were not responded to; subsequent contact made to the SPPD investigating officer regarding another crime in our neighborhood did not yield a return call; contact with the landlord at 615 Lawson just days before the throng of police arrived yielded only a “Thank you.” and “Would you like to buy it ?”

It is 1992 again. It is frustrating now for new homeowners and law abiding renters. When Norm Coleman was elected Mayor in 1993 there was a New, Close Partnership on the blocks where people organized to help the Police to aggressively work to shut down drug houses and street corner drug vendors, end prostitution, clean-up graffiti, enforce excessive noise laws against ghetto blasters and a host of other quality of life crimes. We then got the Mayor to help to convert multi-family rental buildings to single family rental homes, or bring them into homeownership.

In 1996 and 1997 I worked to get the first Ramsey County/Federal Community Development Block Grant funds invested in the City of Saint Paul spent to close a 24 unit alcohol rehab facility on Cook, and a new Habitat Home was built in its place; finally winning a battle the neighbors had fought unsuccessfully for the previous 20 years.

My point is WE, homeowners and renters, can beat the criminals, and the landlords that house them; but WE need more than hollow words and press releases from the Mayor’s Office to take back our neighborhoods again. City Hall has been chasing ribbon cuttings, rather than fighting criminals in our economically challenged neighborhoods where the crime tape appears with great regularity. Beating the criminals should become job one; but the current Mayor and his cronies, have other priorities, like getting Chris elected Governor. Citizens here know this current crop of City Hall politicians, who all come from a single political party, have to be true to their altar of political correctness that allows crime to spread unchecked and intimidates good citizens from calling 911 because they are scared the politicians won’t back the cops on the beat to do their jobs, or protect the citizens calling 911 for help to enforce the law.

In 2016 Saint Paul City Hall is delivering more crime, higher property taxes, while hiking city fees for roads as well as raising basic water rates 20% to residents on the East Side, Thomas-Dale, Summit-University, the North End and West Seventh neighborhoods where incomes are lower, and seniors and families are trying to just keep the bills paid.

Of course, City Hall will tell you crime is down; really!
If you want lower tax increases and less crime you should move to Summit Avenue; it is the price of admission that is the problem for working families and retirees modest means. The $356K median value home in Summit Hill is up 5.1% in market value will pay $105 in higher taxes or 1.9% more. Dayton’s Bluff homeowners with $109K median value homes will pay $144 more in taxes, a 12% tax hike!

In Saint Paul it’s true, the Poor get poorer while the Rich pay less; so much for all that liberal talk of “equity” and “lifting all boats” in a rising tide of government spending that does not deliver either safe streets or academically excellent public schools for our Saint Paul kids.

WE are not the problem! WE do pay the property taxes, and the water bills. WAKE UP SAINT PAUL! Property owners, and renters (Apartment Values up 21.4% city wide…higher rents will follow) you are being sold a fairy tale, that higher costs, higher taxes and less public services produce: America’s Most Livable City.”


A reply to Greg Copeland on the street after one of his neighbors read the post.  We are withholding the name of the person.

Greg Fighting for his Neighborhood for 20 years;  Battling Criminals Successfully, Despite Complacent  Politicians at City Hall. 

Greg is the Champion for Seniors and Families who deserve Peace of Mind, as well as  Protection and Security for their Families, and the Investment in their Homes.

Safe Neighborhoods and Secure Schools Require Safe Streets!


This article was originally published on October 14, 2016.  It’s title has been changed to renew it.  Some in the press will criticize my posts because they aren’t “new” though I offer light they offer the same vapid offerings with different dates and places.  The content hasn’t been changed other than the title ~~ Publius Jr.

It isn’t Logical to not teach Logic in Modern Schools

Logic is More Important than Ever – So Why Don’t Schools Teach it Anymore?

One of the great ironies of our age is that schools have stopped teaching logic in an age when it’s more necessary than ever.

We live in a time defined by vast information, mass marketing, and propaganda. It’s been 70 years since Dorothy Sayers observed that by teaching young men and women to read but not think, “we have left them at the mercy of the printed word.”  She continued:

“By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects.”

Unfortunately, things have only gotten more complicated since Sayers wrote these words in 1947. With the advent of TV, the internet, social media, and smart phones we’re peppered by a continual stream of messaging from people, corporations, and organizations. They tell us what to buy, desire, and think—all the time.

“There’s a clear need for people to think more clearly in modern life and they need the tools to do that,” says Stanford computer science professor Michael Genesereth, author of a new electronic textbook. “Logic is one of those tools. And the need for it grows more important as these kids move on to college.”

Despite this need, few people reading this article have a single school in their district that offers instruction in formal logic. Why?

In her essay, Sayers said the disrepute into which logic has fallen is “entirely unjustified.” But she offers two explanations for why it happened.

The first reason is that modern man has been led to believe that “we are conditioned almost entirely by the intuitive and the unconscious.” The second reason is we’ve come to believe that universal assumptions are either unprovable or mere tautologies.

Both arguments are weak, Sayers points out. The former is a self-fulfilling prophecy (is there a better way to create human drones than denying them the tools of reason?); the latter ignores the fact that logic is primarily a tool to detect and expose bad arguments, not a device to establish a perfect moral order.

There are many reasons to teach logic to young people: it improves speaking, reasoning, and civil discourse. On the other hand, I can’t identify a single valid reason to deny students instruction in logic.

In an era in which the phrase “fake news” is commonplace and demagogues spread falsehoods with shameless ease, the teaching of logic to young people would seem a no-brainer to Americans of every creed, ideology, and political party. Am I wrong?


This post Logic is More Important than Ever – So Why Don’t Schools Teach it Anymore? was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Jon Miltimore on August 7, 2017. Reposted by GregCopeland911.wordpress.com on August 15, 2017.


Raheem Williams: School Choice is not Racist

School Choice and Racism: A Myth Devoid of Context

There has been a lot of recent discussion on the racial impact of school choice. Critics have used research reports to corroborate their claims that school choice increases racial segregation. While these claims have a factual basis, they are in dire need of context.

School choice can increase racial segregation, but not for reasons anyone should fear.

First, we need to differentiate between de facto (by choice) and de jure (under law) segregation. People choose who to openly associate with. This is reflected in the neighborhoods they live in, the clubs they join, and where they choose to work. Forming groups is natural, though occasionally problematic.

As a nation, we fought hard against legal segregation—a fight school choice advocates have no intention of reviving. Today, it is illegal for public schools or schools that receive public funding to discriminate on the basis of race or disability (among numerous other traits). No credible proponents of school choice want to rollback these basic civil rights.

The documented increase in segregation as a by-product of choice exists in a different context than the racial issues of the civil rights era. Charter schools in urban minority neighborhoods often offer an alternative to failing traditional public schools. The harsh reality is that the traditional school district model has failed minorities. Therefore, it is not surprising that alternatives designed to offer more choices to parents and students have disproportionately attracted students of color.

In this way, the segregation effect is no more harmful than that of modern Historical Black Colleges/Universities (HBCU). With their traditional mission to serve black students, these institutions are embraced – not criticized – for the outcomes they offer a historically disadvantaged group. Similarly, the segregation effect of school choice should not be seen as an instrument of racism, but rather as progress against a failing of the traditional public school system.

While there is nothing inherently racist about school choice, there is a subtle, unintentional racism espoused by its opponents. In its purest form, school choice seeks to expand the number options available to all parents and students. However, wealthy families already can and often do practice school choice. They can afford to buy homes in areas with high-performing traditional public schools or send their kids to private school. Without school choice, students from low-income households cannot enjoy these same advantages.

There is a subtle racism built into the assumption that poor people should not be allowed to decide what is best for their kids—a luxury the rich already have. There is a subtle racism in demanding poor children, who are often people of color, be locked into schools we know are failing them.

We have a lot of problems to address in our education system, but racism in school choice is not one of them. It is not racist to extend privileges to the poor that the rich have enjoyed for centuries. It is not racist to increase the autonomy of families to make decisions about their children’s education. It is not racist to empower underprivileged minorities. School choice advocates do not want to destroy public education, they want to save it. In the various debates surrounding education reform, it is important to remember our shared goal. We want better schools that lead to more opportunities for all of America’s children.

[Image credit: By Jbak87 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]

This post School Choice and Racism: A Myth Devoid of Context was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Raheem Williams.


This article was reposted from Intellectual Takeout, it was originally published on August 10, 2017.

Raheem Williams is an economic research specialist at the Center for the Study of Public Choice and Private Enterprise(PCPE) at North Dakota State University. He received his B.A. in economics at Florida International University and his M.A. in financial economics from the University of Detroit Mercy. He is the founder of “The Policy,” a forum that promotes public policy dialogue across socio-economic levels. You can find more from this author on the PCPE social mediaplatforms.