School consolidation, bad for education and finances.

    I live in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.  We have had 3 high schools in our area since at least the 1930s.  There were many more,  but they were consolidated into 3 schools.  E. L.  Meyers High School,  Coughlin High School and G.A.R. High School.  Meyers and GAR are 7-12 and Coughlin is 9-12. The graduating class in 2015 from Coughlin was 259, Meyers about 150 and GAR about 150. All the schools in our area are not meeting the grade testing wise.  Meyers and Coughlin have issues with the buildings that change day to day. Our school board recently decided to infuriating the public,  ignore the public and subvert the public by deciding to build one school.

       The board decided to consolidate Meyers and Coughlin into one school.  They had a choice of 2 locations.  1 was Meyers,  7.7 acres,  neighborhood school,  most of the school walked already and it wasn’t in a central location to create traffic problems.  2 was Coughlin,  2.4 acres,  downtown,  traffic problems,  crime and drug problems,  now have to bus both schools and the property with the higher value to sell.  The board said no more property would be bought but are already proposing to buy more. Yes,  they chose number 2. Then decided to add on to an existing school to put 7th and 8th graders in there.  They are building over the city pool.  The project is estimated to cost $100 million.  They company that did the feasibility study received the job with no bid.  Yes,  a $100 million job,  no bid,  to the first company.  When the people asked for this to be put on the referendum,  the board voted 5-4,  against the referendum.  A classless display of egotism.

           Why do I not want a consolidated school? There are several reasons.  First and foremost is the children. Consolidated schools,  with over 1000 students have been shown not to work.  Test scores are lower,  attendance drops,  less participation is school activities,  loss of the intimate parent teacher relationship and kids falling through the cracks. The housing prices next to this newly empty school will plummet 10 to 20%.  A pillar in that community will be gone,  the building will be left to fester like so many other empty schools across the United States and a place that had a large community involvement leaves a hole which was once filled.  Another issue with consolidation.  Lower income kids do not get the same level of education they get in smaller neighborhood schools.  In effect,  classism reigns supreme again. 

    Sadly our school board did not take any of these things into account.  In about a year they went about their study.  When informed that Governor Tom Wolf intended to put a moratorium into effect on Plancon,  the state school funding project,  our board rushed to a decision.  They presented the plan Monday and voted on it Wednesday.  That seem well thought out to you? When the board spoke,  all they talked about was money.  Education was not mentioned once.  They believe bussing more kids will save money,  haha.  They believe eliminating 32 positions will save $3.1 million a year,  haha.  They said only 50% of landowners in the city pay taxes.  I say look at how happy Utah is.  They consolidated and didn’t save any money.  In fact it cost more.

      The board cited soil condition under Meyers as a reason for building at Coughlin.  Yet they plan on adding to a school that  is about 500 yards away.  They claim that they are concerned with safety at Meyers,  yet  had a graduation ceremony there.  They want to make that building into a sports complex.  How is that safe? The football stadium that 4 schools use is there.  They still plan on using it.  How us that safe? Something seems a bit off.

         I have an idea.  I don’t know if it is the right or best idea but it is better then this mess.  Experts say 1000 kids or less is the optimum amount for our kids to learn and test well. Built a new,  smaller Meyers that meets all qualifications.  Build a new Coughlin on the site where the middle and elementary school is,  no more land purchases,  build it to accommodate the population. This way we have 3 campus style high schools.  All very close to 1 of the 5 elementary schools locally. Experts agree that this model is best.They also agree 7-12 is the best model. Why is money coming before our kids? Pennsylvanian ranks 49th in the country in state funding for education. It also has a horrible system for who gets money.  Wealthier districts seem to receive more. These are things Governor Wolf is trying to fix.  Let him fix it.  Let our kids not have to pay off a monstrosity that we will be trying to change in 15 years.  Listen to the people.

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What happened to our Democracy?

         What happened to the great country of America? Why do we not prosper like we did in the 1950s-1970s? What caused the greatest nation in earth to come back to the pack? If you listen to Republicans it is all liberals fault, their policies and entitlements. If you listen to Democrats it is all conservatives fault, horrible policies, war mongering and the trickle down economy. But what caused our current predicament. This is an average high school educated Americans opinion on our decline.

America was very successful in the decades following WWII. There are several reasons for this. I believe first and foremost was the conditions other countries were in. Germany, England, Italy, France, Japan and most of Europe was decimated by the war. This essentially left the world at Americas mercy. We were the only developed country that wasnt decimated and we took full advantage of that. Second was the rise of labor unions. They leveled the playing field with corporations causing better pay and benefits. Workers were happy and American made meant something. Third was the gap in income. It put us in a position where employees believed in their employers. Corporations werent cutting corners for a profit.

When CEO pay began to grow quicker then employee pay we saw the beginning of the decline. Companies off shoring work to make a higher profit despite products that were not made very well. Union membership particularly in the early 2000s declined sharply. NAFTA wad created to help Americans but it worked against us. This was the beginning of the end. Then banks began to work against us. I to this day do not completely understand what they did, but they destroyed pensions, credit, peoples lives and the American economy. Too big too fail and too rich too prosecute.

You may ask “Why all this about the economy and jobs?” It all contributed to the political climate we live in today. The decimation of unions took away one of the major checks on corporations power. Easieast example is Walmart. They make billions in profits, get all of their product from overseas and essentially pay minimum wage. They typically cap employees hours so they dont have to offer benefits. All the while their employees are in every government program that is offered because of the low pay. Walmart is one of the largest employers in the country. Any attempt at unionizing is dealt with harshly. People getting fired, hours cut amongst other things. Workers no longer recieve living wages, all the while corporations and the super wealthy gain more and more of the pie.

Why does any of that matter? Well that is quite easy. 94%. 94% of the time the politician with the most money wins. 94%, a ridiculous number. That means that the people with money get their politician of choice. That means that said politician then works for the cause of the wealthy. That causes an ever growing gap in income inequality. When corporate backed politicians are in charge, corporations essentially are in charge. Take the Stand Your Ground Law, a mess of a law. ALEC writes papers called model legislation, which is a bill that is given to their bought congressmen, who then work to get it passed. Congress no longer works for the people, it works for its puppet master.

Money has bought our government, big money, corporations and super wealthy. These people have destroyed our democracy. We are now at the mercy of our corporate overlords. It is funny to think that not only do you buy their product in a store, but we all bow at the altar of the wealthy. This is what these wannabe oligarchs, feudalists or monarchs want from us. For a while the people were silent, but many are waking up. But it is too late? Can we retake our democracy? Is America the new Rome? I certainly hope not. But in my opinion we are balanced on a precipice.

I realize that this is not the most concise description of our fall. But just open your eyes and look around. People stand up for a tax evader like Cliven Bundy but demonize Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown. When was racism so prevelant, the 1950s. How about the constant attack on women? It seems like a calculated attack to keep rich men in charge of things. The election of President Obama, a black man, seems to upset the apple cart. Why else would certain people say their first and most important priority was to make him a one term president. Democracy is not conservatism or liberalism, it is a combination of all of them. We need to overturn Citizens United, put term limits on Senators, Representatives and Supreme Court Justices. We need to be able to assess their jobs and have the right to immeadiatly fire them. Our democracy is on the line. Lets save it.

Does the Republican party really mean what they do?

             Many of the things the Republican party are currently doing are inherently unAmerican. The Constitution seems only to matter when it helps their corporate masters. The lobbyist, Koch Brothers, ALEC and the NRA are some very prominent puppet masters. The will of the majority has been pushed to the side. Do Republicans even realize what they are doing?

Take Gun Violence. Instead of pursuing a possible solution they spout out the rhetoric they are fed by their puppet masters. All the numbers shown by independent researchers directly contradict the numbers put forth by the NRA. The areas with the highest amount of guns tend to have a very high crime rate. About 5,000 people have been killed by gun violence since Sandy Hook, yet Republicans refuse to do anything about gun violence. The public wants action, yet Republicans stall and protect the money.

For 2 years Republicans complained about President Obama and Democrats not creating enough jobs, despite Republican efforts to thwart any type of job creation. They have held the House for 3 years, yet have not created any jobs. They denied the Obama Jobs Bill and the Veterans Jobs Bill, yet have passed 44 anti-abortion measures and another 90 religious bills. They say they want the corporate tax lowered, yet when President Obama offered it, they refused. They refuse to help the average American.

Republicans seem to enjoy holding Americans hostage with the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling enables us to pay the bills we have already incurred. They raised it 7 times for Bush 43 and another 7 or so for Reagan. This is the first time a President had to fight to raise the debt ceiling. The last time Republicans did this it resulted in a credit downgrade for the U.S. Are they truly willing to default on America’s bills to further their agenda?

Then we have the way Republicans talk about race. Anne Coulter referred to President Obama as ‘Putin’s Monkey” several times in an interview. Another Republican Senator called Latinos “wetbacks”. A Republican leader in Pennsylvania said the Voter I.D. laws were put in place to prevent minorities from voting. This is not what are forefathers had in mind when they drafted the Constitution. It is not for our representatives to pick and choose from.

Do Republicans really expect to be taken seriously? They keep pushing the will of the people to the side for corporate interests and then try to tell us all the good they are doing. They are slimming their voting pool. Democrats already outnumber them, their actions are pushing more people away. They talk about a broken system, they broke it. They are also prospering because of it.

The Republican party’s all out attack on Women, minorities, the poor and the U S. Constitution.

                 This is a very difficult time in in American politics. One party calls the other Marxist, socialist and unAmerican. Yet while saying these things they attack Americans fundamental rights, voting and the First Amendment. The Constitution seems not to be the sacred document we thought, it is being treated like a 7 graders essay.

The party in question is of course the Republican party. They believe in and support the Second Amendment, but stomp all over people’s religious freedom by forcing their religious beliefs on others. They are attacking people’s right to vote because they can’t win a presidential election. Several Republican lawmakers have said the new Voter I.D. laws will cause less people to vote. Which of course works in their favor.

They are essentially telling the citizens of America that their opinion doesn’t matter. They do this although they hold a publicly elected office. Since we the Constitution was written Americans have had the right to vote, white men did. It took many, many years and the hard work of the Civil Rights movement to get African Americans the right to vote. Women couldn’t vote until the 1920s. That proves that our Constitution is a fluid document, open to change. Republicans like to think otherwise.

President Obama and Democrats alike are fighting new Voter Laws nationwide. They are defending our all of our Constitutional rights, not just the ones lobbyist pay them to protect. While fighting these laws and trying to improve the economy, Republicans have an all out assault on Womens Reproductive Rights. The hell with Roe v. Wade and the U.S. Constitution that protects these rights. Women, minorities and the poor have been the targets of the new Republican party. Their attempts to protect the 1% hopefully will prove their undoing in the 2014 election and others there after.

House Republicans plan on holding nation hostage on Debt Ceiling, in order to get Ryan Budget in place.

                 House Republicans are drafting a Debt Ceiling playbook. They are calling it a menu of mandatory spending cuts to offer President Obama in exchange for raising the debt limit. The menu is a list of deeper cuts for President Obama to consider. If he goes small on cuts House Republicans will give him a short extension. But, for example, if he privatizes Social Security, House Republicans will likely raise it for the rest of his term.

President Obama said he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling. He warned Congress not to threaten the credit worthiness of the U.S. by holding the debt ceiling hostage. Not raising the Debt Ceiling was basically unheard of until President Obama took office. House Republicans fear the President will wait until the last minute and make a BIPARTISAN deal with the Senate. This will force the House to take a deal they don’t want or rightly be blamed for defaulting on the country’s obligations and causing a downgrade if the U.S. credit worthiness.

House Republicans are trying to sell this as a compromise. But their menu reads almost as a carbon copy of the Ryan Budget, which President Obama disagrees with. Democrats disagree with the Ryan Budget because of spending cuts, as well as large tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. They are not offering a compromise, they are issuing an ultimatum. They are setting their partybup for certain failure in the 2014 elections.

While the House is responsible for raising the Debt Ceiling, President Obama does not have to agree to anything. He will never have to run for reelection again. If he says no, Democrats can use it against Republicans in 2014 and like I said it will work against Republicans to go down this road.

John Boehner and Paul Ryan are playing a game of political chess. They believe they will avoid political fallout from another Debt Ceiling debacle if they pretend to give President Obama and the Democrats a choice. The option is which programs that help people to kill. House Republicans will probably cave at the last possible second, causing more of a problem than necessary. The last time President Obama tried to compromise with Republicans, they spit in his face. His strategy of waiting out House Republicans seems to be working. Why would he change it now?

Governor Corbett’s education budget is preferential treatment masquerading as broad based supplements.

             Recently Pennsylvania gave an extra $1 million in state money to a school district through an unusually specific supplement. Only one district, Hazleton Area School District, recieved the $1 million. As much as that cash strapped district can use the money, so can almost every other School District in Pennsylvania.

There was a bit more than $30 million handed out to a few schools under titles like Small School District Supplement, Small Rural School District Supplement and Third Class County School District Supplement. There are 154 districts in the states 12 third class counties, designation is determined by population. But to qualify for the piece of the $1 million supplement, a district had to have a stare calculated “Aid Ratio” that fell in a very narrow range, leaving only 24 qualified districts. 6 of those districts were in Luzerne County, 5 of them, as well as 18 out of the 24 did not meet the last requirement based on enrollment for the supplement. It seems as if the supplement was tailor made for the full $1 million to go to Hazleton.

There were 12 supplements, 6 went to single districts. With the rest divided by 2 and 3 to 5 districts. The $500,000 Rural School District Supplement went to Phillipsburg-Osceola School District in Clearfield County. The $500,000 Small School District Supplement went entirely to Penns Valley Area School District in Centre County. If size was the only consideration, requirement was 1,600 students or fewer, it could have been divided between 166 districts, 152 of which were smaller.

This is not a reflection on the School Districts who recieved these supplements. With all the cuts Corbett and his Republican supporters made to the Education Budget, any and all schools needs this money. This is a direct reflection on Governor Corbett and his ludicrous policies. All of the School Districts are suffering with him as Governor. Instead of focusing on Education, he has focused on Privatizing Liquor Sales, Privatizing the Pennsylvania Lottery and another Anti-Abortion lawmaker. He has Pennsylvania ranked 49th in the country in job creation. Good job Governor.

A recent poll shows how Pennsylvanians feel about Governor Corbett. 43% of Republicans believe he will be reelected. 25% of Independents believe he should be reelected. Democrats just plain want him outvof office. He is as much as 10% behind his probable Democrat challenger for Governor. Things are not looking peachy for Corbett and it is his own doing. To sacrafice Education and Seniors to give large Tax Breaks to corporations does not endear you to the people.

Republicans are not job creators, useless law creators.

                  Over the last 5 years Republicans have done little to help the economy and in fact have impeded its recovery. The Sequester alone has cost several hundred thousand jobs; not to mention all the furloughs. They have worked with corporations to stop the will of the people and have made a mockery of our Government.

They believe in deregulation which directly led to the Financial Collapse, the Great Recession and the Housing Crisis. They have fought against reform in all of these markets, hurting our economy. They have not supported American ideals, leaning more toward a bigoted, short sighted corporate view of America. They have shot down Jobs Bill and Veterans Jobs Bills to concentrate on Anti-Abortion and Voter Regulation Laws.

The only way to make the ACA work is to work together. Republicans refuse and would rather destroy the middle class and social safety nets to prevent Tax Reform. They support the Citizens United Supreme Court decision but refuse to hold corporations accountable for their illegal actions. I and most other Americans do not think anyone is above the law or deserves a free ride. That is why not prosecuting CEOs of Too Big Too Fail Banks is a slap in America’s face.

I dont think our founding fathers imagined an American governed by corporations. Nor did they envision a Congress that would work against the countries best interests. But thus is where we are. Knuckleheads screaming for secession, yet they recieve more government money than anyone else. This is a country being held hostage by a party throwing a 4 year temper tantrum. Time for the rich white party to grow up.