School Days, School Days

When I first read that the San Francisco Board of Education voted unanimously to give 107 students high school diplomas, even though the students have not met the requirements for graduation, I naturally assumed it was a case of educrats bending the rules to boost graduation statistics.

But when I looked at the situation more closely, the board’s action was fair and made sense.

The San Francisco board’s vote was a response to the high-handed decision from the California Department of Education that suddenly canceled the required high school exit exam. Those 107 students from San Francisco International High arrived at the testing center only to find there was no test and no way to get their diploma, since state law requires passing the test before a diploma is issued.

High school students can try to pass the test beginning as early as their sophomore year and continue to attempt to pass for the rest of their high school career. The fact the vast majority of students taking the test fail it is a damning commentary of the state of education here.

KQED reports: “According to state data, last summer 4,847 math tests were given with 1,286 (26.5 percent) students passing and 5,826 English Language Arts tests were given with 1,248 (21.4 percent) students passing.”

That’s a quality control standard so bad it makes Chinese sheet rock manufacturers look like the picture of high standards.

Since students obviously can’t pass the test, California educrats are presented with two choices: Improve education so students are learning and not simply warming a chair, or change the test. Naturally, California decided to change the test; and I don’t think the goal is to make it harder.

State bureaucrats decided to cancel “because the exam does not reflect the new state academic standards.”

Then, after ruining thousands of seniors’ attempts to graduate, the department went to the legislature to ask them to retroactively remove the testing requirement for three years so the monkeys at the state department of education can type up a new test.

In other words, in typical bureaucracy fashion, out-of-touch educrats happily put the cart before the horse and were shocked the ride was so dangerous.

No one bothered to think that suddenly changing the rules of the game in the 4th quarter might be controversial for the players.

When informed about the problem with students planning to go to college, state Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley breezily told the San Francisco Chronicle: “Our hope is that the few students who find themselves in this situation will only have to defer their dreams of attending the college of their choice for one semester. In the meantime, there are other options available to these students, including our California Community Colleges. I received excellent preparation at my local community college before attending university.”

Which is the way elite bureaucrats dismiss the concerns of the little people whose lives they’ve disrupted.

So for at least once, the San Francisco board has done the right thing. Congratulations. Try to make it a habit.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Trump Is All Talk

Donald Trump is the first talk radio candidate.

Everything he says on the primary trail sounds just like what you can hear on conservative talk radio every day.

When he’s riffing about the failures of the political class in Washington, calling for an end to birthright citizenship or handling a media heckler like Jorge Ramos at a press conference, Trump is talking straight to the hearts and minds of the talk radio demographic.

He’s not much of a conservative, or much of a Republican, for that matter.

But as Trump forces many of the other timid GOP candidates to address subjects they’re otherwise too scared to address, he’s echoing what millions of conservative talk-show listeners have been yelling about for decades.

I know. I used to be one of those talk show guys. I’ve heard what the silent majority yells and bitches at their radios about.

Trump is an entertaining showman. Though he’d hate to admit it, he’s also a natural-born politician.

He might not be likable. But he knows how to relate to and communicate with his constituents. All he needs are catchy slogans, half-finished sentences, quips and shrugs.

The Donald is authentic all right — to a fault. But because he’s immune to criticism from the media or other politicians, as a candidate he has it easy.

Like any conservative talk show host, he can say any wild-and-crazy thing about immigration or the Iran nuclear deal he likes without paying a political penalty or having to explain his sketchy policy ideas.

For example, he can promise us over and over that the first thing he’ll do as President Trump is build a 1,900-mile wall to stop the illegals coming in from Mexico.

But the wall is the simple part. Every conservative talk radio guy in North American has been calling for a strong southern border wall for years.

But what would President Trump do about the 12 million illegal immigrants already living in the U.S.? And what about the millions of illegals who didn’t wade across the Rio Grande to get here?

Studies say as many as 50 percent of them came here legally but then overstayed their tourist or student visas and never left. More than 10 percent came from Asia.

That “Great Trump Wall” he’ll build on the Mexican border won’t stop those kinds of “unauthorized” guests, no matter how tall it is.

It’d be nice if Trump — or any of the genuine conservative Republican candidates — had a few smart ideas about fixing our horrible legal immigration system.

With its long wait times, Soviet-style paperwork, high legal costs and politicized selection process, it’s the epitome of a Big Government bureaucracy.

Last I heard, conservatives were supposed to be against such things.

Meanwhile, a one-man party like Trump will not be able to fix immigration, legal or illegal.

It’s going to take a “boring” career politician like John Kasich, Rick Perry, Chris Christie or Jeb Bush to accomplish that and everything else Trump is talking about doing in Washington to “make America great again.”

As Republican governors, Perry, Kasich, Christie and Bush have proven track records. Perry and Kasich have done all the right conservative things in Texas and Ohio.

They’ve cut taxes, cut back government and created new jobs by encouraging economic growth. Poor Perry did all three, plus he dealt with the border and hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants.

Trump has many accomplishments. He’s a fabulous negotiator and builder. He’s also stirring up Republican primary politics-as-usual in a beneficial way.

It’s really great that he’s not afraid to say what a lot of conservatives in the country want to hear him say.

But as any talk radio guy can tell you, saying something and getting something done are two different things.

What Perry and the other governors actually have accomplished in their states is what Trump can only espouse and promise if, by some miracle, he gets to Washington.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

It’s Time To Take On Trump

Is Donald Trump the Republican Party’s “Music Man”?

Is he the celebrity con man who’s going to lead the GOP’s parade of candidates from now all the way until next November?

I hope not, but so far that’s exactly what the 2016 script is looking like.

Trump — a political novice — has been leading the Republican’s presidential marching band all over the political landscape. His campaign’s theme song should be “Seventy-Six Trombones.”

He’s been calling all the tunes, attracting all the media attention and the biggest crowds, killing in all the polls and making a lot of professional politicians and their campaign managers look like a squad of high school baton twirlers.

Over the weekend, Trump fleshed out his awful immigration policies.

They include erecting a “strong, strong” wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, making Mexico pay for its construction by docking remittances, deporting all illegal immigrants from the States and revoking birthright citizenship guaranteed by the Constitution.

Trump’s policies for achieving “real immigration reform” have a populist appeal. They are music to the ears of GOP hardliners, too; but they’re impractical, unrealistic, stupid and unconstitutional.

Yet when members of the Republican Party’s elite corps of presidential wannabes were contacted by the media earlier this week, not one of them had the courage to really go after Trump or his bad policy ideas.

Chris Christie, the tough-guy governor from New Jersey, muttered something like “Everything’s on the table.”

Scott Walker, the brave union-busting governor of Wisconsin, dodged a question about ending birthright citizenship for kids born in the U.S. to parents who came here illegally.

Carly Fiorina turned uncharacteristically soft, saying she agreed with some of Trump’s tough positions on immigration but questioned his ability to implement them.

John Kasich, Ohio’s no nonsense governor, didn’t bash Trump personally; but at least he pointed out that hunting down people who are here illegally is not doable, right or humane.

At first, Jeb Bush, a virtual liberal on immigration, barely took issue with Trump’s foolish and impossible promise to build an impenetrable wall along the Mexican border.

But on Wednesday, Jeb came out against “anchor babies,” proving that Trump is setting the agenda and changing things.

No candidate I heard noted that deporting millions of illegal immigrant families would take years and cost billions in court costs, since every deportee would be entitled by law to a hearing and an appeal.

No principled conservative-libertarian candidate pulled out his pocket-size copy of the U.S. Constitution and pointed out that ending the birthright citizenship would mean having to first pass a constitutional amendment.

Republicans and conservatives are running out of time. Trump is already too off-the-charts to be hurt by anything he says, and he’s too rich and egotistical to fade away. He’s going to be around next fall causing trouble for the GOP.

Some Republican presidential candidate  — Ben Carson? Carly Fiorino? Rand Paul? — needs to stand up now and separate themselves and the Republican Party from the Party of Trump before it’s too late.

Some gutsy candidate has to step out of the GOP’s marching band and pound home the truth about “The Music Man” — that he is an idiot and he and his ideas do not represent the Republican Party or conservatism.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Trump, Trumpies, And RINOs Trouble The GOP

Donald Trump did wonders for Fox News’ ratings and Megyn Kelly’s star power last week.

But “The Donald” didn’t do himself, the Republican Party or the conservative cause any favors.

Millions of viewers saw clear evidence that Trump is not a serious Republican candidate or really a conservative.

He espoused no conservative principles or policies. He offered no ideas or specific conservative solutions to any domestic or foreign problem.

All he proved — as if the whole TV audience didn’t already know — was that he’s an egomaniacal billionaire who’s certain he’d make a good Republican president.

During the debate, he repeated his shallow generalities about building a high wall to stop illegal immigration, making better trade deals with China and the serial incompetence of our leaders in Washington.

And he boasted that “I’m rich. I buy candidates. Government is broken. I can fix it.”

Because he appeals mostly to people who listen to conservative talk radio 24/7, Trump has won over a large number of Republicans and conservatives who mistakenly think he is one of them.

Trump’s poll numbers in Iowa, New Hampshire and elsewhere have gone up since last week. They remain embarrassingly high for the Republican Party, but they’ll start falling to Earth soon.

It’ll happen when his Don Rickles routine wears thin, his liberal tendencies are exposed and the GOP’s bloated preseason roster gets cut down to Jeb, Scott, John, Rand, Ted and probably Carly.

Meanwhile, Trump has issued a threat to the Republican Party.

He said that if it does not treat him “fairly” or with “respect,” whatever that means, he might run next fall as an independent or a third party candidate.

Trump calls his threat “leverage,” but I think others would call it “extortion” or “blackmail.”

If he doesn’t get his way, he’d be willing to sabotage the GOP in 2016 and almost certainly give Hillary, Joe Biden or even Bernie the Socialist the keys to the White House.

Meanwhile, as if Trump was not causing enough trouble for the GOP, the party has to deal with a chronic problem within its own conservative ranks that cost it the last presidential election.

For some reason, many Republicans and conservatives have become their own worst enemies.

If they don’t agree with 100 percent of everything a primary candidate says or does, they call him or her a “Republican in name only” and they’re against them.

It’s gotten totally nuts and self-defeating. As a party, we laud Jeb for his many successes as a conservative governor of Florida.

But because he’s in favor of Common Core or immigration reform, some conservatives declare him a RINO unfit to be president.

It’s the same with John Kasich.

Conservatives love him because he brought us a balanced budget in Washington as a congressman and then went on to turn Ohio around as governor.

But because recently he accepted federal Medicaid money for Ohio, some conservatives don’t think he should be president. He’s a RINO.

To make matters worse, if their favorite in the primary doesn’t win, many conservative Republicans won’t show up in the general election to vote for president. Ask Mitt Romney how that works out.

Conservatives love to drop my father’s name and try to find candidates that act and think like he did. But they forget that Ronald Reagan was an 80-20 guy.

He was happy to agree with 80 percent of a Republican candidate’s views because he knew that he’d never find someone with whom he agreed 100 percent.

He didn’t make the perfect conservative the enemy of the good conservative. And he always, always, always supported the final choice of the Republican Party — even after they beat him in the primary.

Finally, may I remind everyone that as governor, Ronald Reagan, the great conservative, raised taxes and signed an abortion bill?

That would disqualify him as a RINO by today’s standards. Yet he was the best president in our lifetime.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

No Sale, Mr. Obama

Did you catch President Obama’s sales speech for his Iranian nuclear deal at American University?

My head is still spinning, and I think I did something to my back trying to follow the president’s arguments on Wednesday afternoon.

Basically, the president said if Congress doesn’t approve the treaty that he, John Kerry and his State Department softball team made with the ayatollahs, three bad things are gonna happen.

Iran will develop nuclear weapons in a hurry.

There will be a new war in the Middle East.

And the United States will lose its credibility as the global leader of diplomacy.

You can argue that the same three bad things will happen, or are already happening, whether or not we sign the Iranian nuclear deal; but let’s not go there.

Obama pulled out all the stops trying to persuade everyone that his bad deal is not only a good deal, it’s the best deal with Iran we can ever hope to get.

He ended his sales pitch by asking Americans to contact their representatives in Washington to urge them to approve the Iranian deal.

He said two years of negotiations “have achieved a detailed arrangement that permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon” and contains “the most comprehensive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program.”

Republicans in the Senate and a few Democrats beg to differ with the president and his self-congratulatory BS. They’d prefer to study the details of the deal – and maybe improve them — before they sign it.

They also want to make sure the smiling Iranian despots in Tehran realize that we have this thing called a Constitution, and no treaty Obama and his team whips up can become law until the Senate ratifies it.

The president appeared at American University in Washington because that’s where John Kennedy gave his “Strategy of Peace” speech in 1963.

JFK called for the U.S. and the Soviets to seek peaceful solutions to the Cold War, which Obama noted was how it ultimately ended.

Obama praised Kennedy and Ronald Reagan and quoted them about the importance of seeking peace and the avoidance of war through diplomacy.

He forgot to mention that Kennedy and Reagan also backed up their hard diplomacy with big military sticks and a willingness to swing them.

Sometimes diplomacy – which Obama acts likes he invented in 2008 – has to take a backseat to a military solution.

In his speech, Obama didn’t quote Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though he did point out that Israel’s leader strongly disagrees with the Iranian deal.

That’s an understatement. As Netanyahu has said, “The nuclear deal with Iran doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb. It actually paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”

The deal won’t bring peace or security for Israel or anyone else, Netanyahu said.

It will “spark a nuclear arms race in the region. And it would feed Iran’s terrorism and aggression that would make war, perhaps the most horrific war of all, far more likely.”

President Obama expressed his deep respect for Netanyahu, then said he was wrong to be against the deal.

Obama also expressed his love for Israel. Saying he’ll always see to it that America defends our loyal ally, he insisted the deal he has crafted is “in America’s interests and Israel’s interests.”

Deal or no deal, in the long run everyone knows Iran is as untrustworthy as any nation on the planet.

Its leaders are responsible for destabilizing half the countries in the Middle East, and they’ve not even pretended to renounce their intentions to destroy the state of Israel.

On Wednesday, Obama boasted that his nuclear deal with Iran could become one of our country’s greatest diplomatic feats.

Let’s hope not.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth