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David Ripley: Typo or Guilty Confession?

April 19th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Well… she’s back.

Hillary Clinton, gripped by inordinate ambition since high school, is certain that the world really needs her. She is once again foisting herself upon the public – now in a “Scooby Doo” van. Pity the poor folks of Iowa.

In making her public announcement, Clinton issued a press release in which she included the following claim to fame:

“From her mother’s own childhood – in which she was abandoned by her parents – to her work going door-to-door for the Children’s Defense Fund, to her battling to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program, [Hillary’s] fought children and families all her career.”

Media smurfs immediately censored the Clinton Campaign, looking askance at the poor proof-reading skills of those extraordinarily gifted and talented people surrounding Team Clinton. How could they let such a big goof in her first official press statement?

But we believe there is more here than meets the casual glance.

For it is indeed true that Hillary Clinton has fought against babies in the womb during her entire public career. Her blind support for abortion on demand makes her among the most dangerous political figures in America. In her view, no baby has any claim to life or our regard unless the mother finds it convenient.

Clinton’s insistence that abortion is at the core of womanhood has also served to wreck havoc on families and our culture.

So, inadvertently perhaps, Hillary has finally spoken the truth about herself and her vision for this nation.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Traditional Nuclear Family Is Crucial to Our Society

April 19th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Our contemporary immersion into political correctness and assumed “rights” regarding the basic building block of society has cumulatively, over the past few decades, steadily eroded not only our sociological strength, but our economic viability as a country. The fundamental significance of the family unit, and the hard data evidencing the undeniable importance of the intact nuclear family, have been ignored, and the longer we pander to bad public policy based in political correctness, the more rapidly our society will degenerate.

A few years ago, drawing heavily from government data and peer reviewed sociological and economic research, Robert I. Lerman and William Bradford Wilcox published an extensive research piece in The Economist confirming the fundamental role the intact nuclear family has on society. Lerman is a Professor of Economics at American University and a Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC., and Wilcox is a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia.

Their executive summary states, “All the latest evidence confirms that the institution of marriage is a key to productive adulthood, the cornerstone of a stable family, and the basic unit of a healthy community. Its effects go well beyond the married couple. It shapes our whole society, from workforce participation to economic inequality to the effectiveness of education. Children raised by married parents have better odds of succeeding in school, excelling at work, and building a stable relationship of their own.”

Drawing from Department of Labor data, they showed how American families experienced an average 80% increase in their real income from 1950-1979. Family income inequality was relatively low, and more than 89% of prime working age men were employed. All of those trends have reversed, and are accelerating to the downside, with the composition and structure of the family playing the most crucial role in this reversal.

In 1980, married parents headed 78% of households with children. By 2012, that had dropped nearly 20%. The researchers, again relying on hard primary data, showed why that was significant. “Married families enjoy greater economies of scale and receive more economic support from kin, and married men work harder and earn more money than their peers, all factors that give them an economic advantage over cohabiting and single-parent families.”

The economic impact on individual family units, as well as society as a whole, cannot be overstated. Even adjusting for race, education, and other factors, if the share of married parents remained at 78% through 2012, “the rise in the overall median income of parents would have been about 22%, substantially more than the actual growth of 14%.” And if the post-1979 immigrants, coming mostly from low-income countries, are adjusted for, the “growth in median family income would have been 44% higher than 1980 levels.” They therefore conclude that the decline in the share of “married-parent families with children largely explains the stagnancy in median family incomes since the late 1970s.”

Traditional nuclear family units, including a mother, father, and children, have been proven to be more viable in almost every facet of sociological construct. As the researchers explain, “Family structure appears to matter for children’s well-being because, on average, children growing up without both parents are exposed to: More instability in housing and primary caretakers, which is stressful for children; Less parental affection and involvement; Less consistent discipline and oversight; and Fewer economic resources.”

Sociologists Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, in summarizing their research on family structure, put it this way: “If we were asked to design a system for making sure that children’s basic needs were met, we would come up with something quite similar to the two-parent ideal. Such a design, in theory, would not only ensure that children had access to the time and money of two adults; it also would provide a system of checks and balances that promoted quality parenting.”

Lerman and Wilcox summarize, “The research to date leads us to hypothesize that children from intact, married families headed by biological or adoptive parents are more likely to enjoy stability, engaged parenting, and economic resources and to gain the education, life experiences, and motivation needed to flourish in the contemporary economy—and to avoid the detours that can put their adult futures at risk.”

Many of the forces negatively affecting the family are cultural and can be attributed to the gradual, yet accelerated, erosion of social mores. But many of the destructive contributors are driven by governmental policy, statute, and legal code, like the IRS “marriage penalty,” and welfare programs that facilitate the absolution of parental responsibilities. And some are couched in principles espoused by political correctness that defy empirical data, the most egregious of the latter represented by the redefinition of marriage, the cornerstone to the family unit, which only further dilutes and weakens the building block of society.

The viability of the American family is crucial for the survival of the republic, not only sociologically, but financially. We all cumulatively either contribute to, or detract from, the soundness of the familial units comprising our society. We must not only do our part in our familial microcosms, but electorally, to elect and support those who favor governmental policy that strengthens the family unit, and who don’t buckle to political correctness in redefining our societal building blocks.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General, Taxes | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, April 13

April 19th, 2015 by Halli

By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

The last two or three days of most legislative sessions are hectic and slow moving at the same time. This year was different and full of “firsts” from beginning to end, at least in my memory.

For the State Affairs Committee it was a year of long hearings on tough issues and hard votes. Most years we see a couple of bills that have some controversy surrounding them. This year there was not a week that went by without major and difficult legislation to consider. Add the words, historical racing, chemical abortion, special liquor licenses, gaming commission, Cananbidiol, agency purchasing, and open meeting law just to name a few. I can’t begin to express how hard the committee worked this year and even though everything didn’t turn out the way I would have liked no one around this place could claim that House State Affairs did not give them a fair and thorough shot.

Whether you agree with what the legislature did or not there were some milestones achieved. Amid continual cries that it was not enough, about $120 million new dollars are going into education. Career ladders for educators with a path forward to fund them are seen as a major step forward. Will these steps improve what our detractors call “Failing Idaho?” Time will tell. By the way and for the record, I for one think that we have schools that are achieving great things. I don’t know about the rest of the state but we have teachers, administrators and parents in District 32 who are innovators and work hard for our kids. The idea of long distance learning and dual credit courses had its real beginning right here at home.

Probably the most visible issue this year was transportation funding. Early on in the session the discussion surrounding transportation was about the same as usual, not enough money to keep the roads in good condition. Also as usual, the level of increase was argued back and forth. What came out of that early talk was an effort that could have provided some sweeping changes in tax policy in Idaho. That effort was summarily dismissed by the Senate. What happened then is what lead to a final week of turmoil on the issue.

This is what came from that process. A 7 cent per gallon increase in gas and diesel tax, a $21 increase in registration fees ($25 for trucks), and the return of the infamous ton mile tax for all trucks over 60,000 pounds which has a delayed implementation date. Most interesting of all is a method of tapping the General fund by sweeping half of any surplus to transportation. It is a little more complicated than that but in general terms that is how it would work. And that brings us to the last two days.

There was very little for most legislators to do except to wait for the results of a conference committee to iron out the differences between the House and the Senate. From the vantage point of the House it looked like the House flinched first. After four redrafts on Friday night, the amendments went to the Senate first and then to the House. The full House did not receive those amendments until about 12:50 AM Saturday morning and then voted on the measure about 1:15 AM. By that time most were willing to vote for anything just to get out of there.

I once asked my dad why he didn’t use the lights on the tractors and tried to quit when the sun went down. His reply has been good advice over the years. He said, “Tom, after dark is when the serious mistakes happen.” That is the feeling I had at the close of this session at 1:30 am on Saturday morning.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, General, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General, Property Rights, Rep. Tom Loertscher, Taxes | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, 6 April

April 19th, 2015 by Halli

By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

I started to look a little bit ragged around the edges so I went to Great Clips and checked in to get a haircut. As the hair cutter began she said to me, “You’re from eastern Idaho aren’t you?” I responded, “Yes. How do you know that?” She said, “Oh I remember you, you’re not a Senator.”I complimented her on her fine memory and then she said, “I could never do a job like that because no matter what you do someone doesn’t like you for it.” I asked her if she watched the news and kept track of what was going on at the Statehouse. She said she never watches the news as it’s too depressing. She may be onto something there.

It was quite an eventful week as the House did its business and tried to move us closer to the end of the session. One of the transportation bills that was sent to the Senate had an interesting fate as it arrived there. They had a hurry-up meeting of the Senate Transportation Committee and sent the bill to the floor without recommendation. After a brief caucus they convened on the floor and immediately sent the transportation bill back to committee and tabled it from the floor of the Senate. I think everybody in the place was rather stunned that there was never a vote taken and was summarily killed without discussion.

So I guess it’s back to the drawing board for the transportation issue. More importantly, until the issue is either put to bed for the session or some type of bill passed, the transportation budget cannot be set. A friend of mine commented that they must be undecided about whether to spend $550 million on roads next year or $650 million. At any rate it looks like it will be a matter of who flinches first.

Also during the week there was another long House State Affairs Committee meeting on the use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for the treatment of patients, especially children, with intractable seizure disorders. CBD comes from a variety of the cannabis family that has virtually no THC (less than 3/10 of a percent) and has no hallucinogenic properties. It also has high levels of CBD which is the ingredient that seems to help with reducing the seizures. The committee initially kept the bill in committee on a tie vote and then the next day had second thoughts and sent it to the floor. It was a heart wrenching hearing, especially listening to the parents of young children who have continual seizures with no means of stopping them with any conventional medicines.

House and Senate leadership decided that it would be a good idea for us all to go home for Good Friday and return on Monday. It’s that time of session when tempers tend to flare a bit and we start saying and doing things that are not the best for anyone. So if the plan works at least we might calm down some nerves and get on to the end of the session.

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Posted in Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General, Rep. Tom Loertscher, Taxes | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Destructive Effects of Multiculturalism

April 19th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

America has a rich history as a melting pot of cultures, ethnicity, and religion. Those who have come here over the past couple hundred years have sought a better life through the freedoms and liberties assured by our Constitution and the free enterprise system that fosters their “pursuit of happiness.” They’ve brought their culture, customs, and language with them, but they became Americans: learned English, learned our customs and conventions, and became encultured into the American way.

America is great in large part because of the diversity of our people, and the richness of our cultural elements brought here. But multiculturalism has become much more than that, and is now more destructive than ameliorative, to American culture.

Multicultural wordleIf the goal of multiculturalism was followed, which was to primarily facilitate the understanding and respect of other cultures, it would contribute, even add “seasoning” to our melting pot by encouraging our young people to compare and contrast, and then eclectically assimilate the best of all cultures. Instead, it has become an assailant to diminish Western values and advance ideologies distinctly anti-American. It has evolved, or devolved, to an illogical extreme that in academic and educational circles, attempts to vitiate the strengths and advances of Western civilization and promotes other cultures as preferable cultural paragons, regardless of their shortcomings.

Thomas Sowell, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University has said, “What ‘multiculturalism’ boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture – and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture.”

MulticulturalismRoger Kimball of the New Criterion has written, “Wherever the imperatives of multiculturalism have touched the curriculum, they have left broad swaths of anti-Western attitudinizing competing for attention with quite astonishing historical blindness.” Multiculturalism has led to the historical revisionism that paints Christopher Columbus as a nefarious European who initiated the transformation of a supposed paradisiacal Western hemisphere into the evil, corrupt America of today.

It is multiculturalism that precludes Shakespeare from being studied by many university literature and English majors, because he was a “sexist and racist white man.” It is also the underlying principle engaged in revising history, including the historical roots of our contemporary observance of Thanksgiving and acknowledgement of the Christian principles prevalent at the time of our founding. Multiculturalism, in it’s extreme, is at the root of the removal of any references to Christ in the public square and public schools, even at the time we celebrate His birthday, for one characteristic of the movement is distinctly anti-Christian.

As convoluted as it may seem, Al Gore was perhaps correct when in the 2000 Presidential campaign he defined E Pluribus Unum as out of one, many, instead of the other way around. Multiculturalism in its extreme form seeks to divide rather than unify as Jefferson and Franklin intended, as emblazoned on the official Seal of the U.S.

A poll by the Pew Research Center a few years ago indicated that only 55% of Hispanics, living either legally or illegally in this country, consider themselves Americans. Another poll of Muslims in Los Angeles County indicated that only 10% of them consider themselves to be Americans. It seems the hyphenation of Americans is another social and cultural divider, rather than a unifier. A hyphenated American is just another symptom of political correctness.

Multiculturalism in its extreme weakens community bonds and reduces the motivation for new immigrants to participate in the common culture, the shared history and the common language of America: English.

The American concepts of freedom of expression, religion, human rights, liberty and democracy are distinctively Western values. As historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. has said, “These are European ideas, not Asian, nor African, nor Middle-Eastern ideas, except by adoption. There is surely no reason for Western civilization to have guilt trips laid on it by champions of cultures based on despotism, superstition, tribalism, and fanaticism.”

The pejorative aspects of multiculturalism have contributed alarmingly to a Balkanization of America, where differences are the focus instead of common values and ideals. Where culture and ethnicity divide us, rather than adding seasoning to our melting pot to enrich the entire culture.

President Theodore Roosevelt put the concepts of multiculturalism in perhaps the best context, although it was of course not known as such in 1907. He declared, “In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

As long as multiculturalism is an end in and of itself, or worse, as a means to continue to diminish western values and our history, and divide and weaken our country, we will continue to decline as a culture, losing those distinctively American traits that once made the nation unique. As it diminishes our value system, erodes our cultural strengths, and rewrites our history, the very meaning of what it means to be an American is perhaps forever changed.

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Posted in Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, March 30

April 19th, 2015 by Halli

By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

Legislators receive all types of calls from constituents needing help with problems that they encounter with government. I received such a call over the weekend concerning a property valuation issue. I was asked if I could have my staff write up something for him. I was quick to inform him that he was talking to my entire staff. Sometimes that is the limiting factor around this place especially at this time of session when things are coming at us so rapidly. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not advocating for a larger staff. That notwithstanding, it makes us stay on our toes as things come so quickly.

There has been an agreement reached on education issues. Instead of the $91 million of new money the amount agreed on was $125 million. About a fourth of that money goes to career ladder development. Other parts of the budget will allow for more spending flexibility for districts. That is one of the things the local school districts have wanted for a long time.

There is still a lot of finger-pointing going on with regard to the Idaho Education Network. In the meantime local schools will be able to have their own contracts and the ability to provide Internet access at a much reduced cost. The legislature’s Office of Performance Evaluation released their report of the data collection system that was supposed to be of such great value to our schools. At the time, many of us here were skeptical that the program would do what it was intended to do and the evaluation made that very determination.

The other big issue that still does not have resolution is for increases in transportation funding. I’ve been making some inquiries about how much money we spend on roads each year in the state of Idaho. Another interesting little tidbit that came along this last week was how the GARVEE bonds that we used for major projects over the last few years is coming back to haunt us. We are now spending an awful lot of money on servicing that debt which prevents us from being able to have enough money to keep up with our maintenance projects.

The bill that will be before us early in the week would increase the sales tax to 7 cents, remove sales tax on food, eliminate the grocery tax credit, increase the fuel tax by 7 cents, increase registration fees and cut income tax rates. Bottom line is over $100 new money for transportation. Complicated is not an adequate word to describe this one.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to best describe this past week of this legislative session. It reminds me a little of the last time we worked the cattle before putting them where the sheds are for the calving season. There’s always a few of those critters get off by themselves and don’t want to come anywhere near the corral. It takes longer to round up the last half-dozen than it does to gather the rest of the herd. Rounding up those last couple of issues this year has consumed a lot of time. And just like the cattle, we’re all running off in different directions. Hang on your hats, the rodeo isn’t over yet.

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Posted in Idaho Legislature, Politics in General, Rep. Tom Loertscher | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Be Informed and Watch Government “Like a Hawk”!

April 19th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

It’s inevitable that citizens would often feel frustrated with their elected officials. After all, it’s impossible to please all the people all of the time, and if they are, they likely aren’t doing their job. But there is one thing that likely is felt universally by constituents, of all ideological persuasions; our elected officials work for us, represent us and our interests, and they should never forget their role of serving in our behalf.

Every once in a while something in our popular culture will capture such universally felt sentiments. Such was the case several years ago with a movie titled Protocol, starring Goldie Hawn (mother to actress Kate Hudson).

In the film, Hawn plays the role of a loveable, yet somewhat ditzy waitress in D.C., who happens to save the life of a visiting Emir from the Middle East. For her heroism, the State Department rewards her with a job serving in the Protocol Division, and then initiates a scheme to marry her off to the Emir whose life she’d saved, in exchange for a new military base to be constructed in the Emir’s country.

When the plan unravels and comes to light, Sunny (Hawn’s character) is hauled before a congressional committee to answer to her involvement in the scheme that has been affectionately dubbed “Sunnygate.” Her response is classic, and reminds us all of some of our responsibilities as American citizens.

As the committee chairman begins the hearing, he declares his intent to find out who was responsible. Sunny responds, “I’m responsible!” She then explained why. “You want to know something? Before I worked for the government, I’d never read the Constitution. I didn’t even begin to know how things worked. I didn’t read the newspaper, except to look up my horoscope. And I never read the Declaration of Independence. But I knew they had, the ones we’re talking about, the experts, they read it. They just forgot what it was about. That it’s about ‘We, the People.’ And that’s ME. I’m ‘We, the People.’ And you’re ‘We, the People.’ And we’re all ‘We, the People,’ all of us.”

“So when they sell me that ten cent diamond ring or down the river or to some guy who wears a lot of medals, then that means they’re selling ALL of us, all of ‘We the People.’ And when YOU guys spend another pile of money and when you give away or sell all those guns and tanks, and every time you invite another foreign big shot to the White House and hug and kiss him and give him presents, it has a direct effect on ‘We the People’s’ lives.”

“So if we don’t, I mean if I don’t know what you’re up to, and if I don’t holler and scream when I think you’re doing it wrong, and if I just mind my own business and don’t vote or care, then I just get what I deserve. So now that I’m a private citizen again, you’re going to have to watch out for me. ‘Cause I’m going to be watching all of you. Like a hawk.”

There are some notable principles embedded in that inspiring response. First, was the concept of personal responsibility. How often do we see people, whether in public life or in their personal lives, not take responsibility for their actions, or their refusal to stand up against those who ultimately are culpable? It’s becoming as uncommon as common sense. Someone, or something, else is always to blame for poor decisions, bad plans, and/or ill-spoken words. And regrettably it seems most obvious in the realms of government, where all too few feel they’re accountable to the electorate for their actions.

Next Sunny reminded us that, as citizens, it’s our responsibility to be knowledgeable and proactive citizens. If we let our elected officials get away with things that are unconstitutional or illegal, we’re at least partly to blame. After all, collectively, we are the ones who put them in their position of responsibility, and they are, or at least should be, accountable to us.

That’s one of the beauties of the American governance model, is we hire them to protect us and our interests, and our rights as citizens. If we’re not proactive, they can increasingly feel like they’re accountable to no one, least of all us. When they start feeling entitled to their perks of office, and taking us, their employers, for granted, they’ve outlived their usefulness and it’s time to retire them.

Such a level of pro-activity will only be efficacious if we’re knowledgeable of our founding documents to know the proper role of governance, and if we keep ourselves apprised of what our government attempts to do for, and to, us. Too many of us are illiterate when it comes to our founding documents, and don’t bother to keep informed of what those in government are doing. I think this is what Winston Churchill was referring to when he said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

I think FDR would have approved of Sunny’s response to the congressional panel, for FDR himself said, “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”

It’s unusual to garner anything substantive from movies, and so something like Goldie Hawn’s eloquent speech before a congressional committee stands out rather starkly. Although she’s a fictional character, Sunny represents what should be the best in all of us, as citizens, as we educate ourselves, keep informed, and watch our elected officials “like a hawk!”

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, March 23

March 26th, 2015 by Halli

By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

I had a chance this last weekend to do a little plowing at the ranch. I couldn’t help but think of a fellow I met years ago that had given up farming in order to get a job in town. I asked him why he did that and he said, “I got tired of going around in circles and getting nowhere.” I’ve never felt that way about farming and in fact I was glad to be able to spend some time on the tractor, getting a little therapy as it were.

The two biggest unresolved issues for this session are education and transportation. While visiting with the Speaker late last week, he assured me that things have progressed to the point that an agreement may soon be reached for education but there is still a wide gap on how to best find new money for transportation. No matter where the Transportation Committee looks, it involves higher gas taxes, higher registration fees, and a minor shift to the general fund. All of these issues seem to have some support but not enough yet to find its way into law.

In State Affairs I presented a Gaming Commission bill for introduction which is now known as House Bill 279. If we have learned anything from this racing bill it has been that there is a definite need for better regulation. It would do away with the Lottery Commission and the Racing Commission and puts in place a regulatory framework that would oversee all gaming in Idaho including Tribal Gaming. Later on in the week we had a hearing on the proposal but the State Affairs Committee decided to not forward the bill for any further discussion. As with most things around this place we had several who testified on both sides. For the most part the horse racing community was very much in favor of the bill and representatives of lottery interests and the tribes were not in favor. The bill was held in committee. The bill to repeal historical racing was voted out of committee and sent to the floor of the House.

I keep thinking that the controversial stuff is going to go away but we still have a couple of issues that we will be deciding in the coming week. There never seems to be a dull moment in the State Affairs Committee. I was visiting with a couple of members of the committee and they told me that it is usual for this committee to be involved with one or two controversial items during the session, but this year has been much different. It seems like we’ve had one or two of those difficult issues each week.

On the lighter side, a resolution was passed by the Senate and sent to the House declaring the week of September 28 through November 4, 2015 to be recognized throughout the state as National Diaper Need Awareness Week. (I am not making this up, and you can read the Senate Concurrent Resolution number 110 online). Let your imagination wander about the puns that were flying around on this one. The members of the State Affairs Committee decided that if there was time to talk about diapers on the House floor, there was time to talk about the state salamander. House Bill 1 was sent to the House floor with a do pass recommendation. The young lady who has been bringing this to the legislature for the past several years was surprised and ecstatic. So at least we made someone’s day. It doesn’t happen often.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General, Property Rights, Taxes | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Common Core’s Fundamental Problems

March 15th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Common Core State Standards for education were advanced as a holistic reform intended to raise academic performance based on standardized achievement results. When reading the standards themselves, and the stated objectives, it’s inconceivable that anyone would take exception to them. Indeed, the education reform language sounds as idealistic and pertinent as any could. They were superbly crafted. Regrettably, in application, much is lost in translation, and Common Core is quickly becoming a significant detriment to our public educational system.

Achieve Inc. (a Bill Gates-funded educational consulting firm) created the standards, for the National Governor’s Association (NGA). And in 2010 when they were rolled out, adoption of the standards by the respective states was tied to the Race To the Top grants, funded by the massive Stimulus package of 2009. The granting of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers augmented inducement for states adopting the standards. The irony of the latter is that we’ve learned over the past ten years of NCLB that accountability and subsequent punishment of districts, schools, and teachers does not substantively improve the quality of education. Yet it’s a significant characteristic of CC.

Achieve, Inc. called upon 135 academicians and assessment experts, most with ties to testing companies, to draft CC. The standards had, prior to their rollout, never been fully implemented or tested in actual schools. This represented a sharp break from educational reform traditions of basing reforms on empirical data and calculable results. Very few of the 135-member team were either classroom teachers or current administrators. The other most conspicuous absence from the development team was parents. After the standards were drafted, K-12 educators were reportedly brought in to “tweak and endorse the standards” to “lend legitimacy to the results, according to the editors of RethinkingSchools.org.

By contrast, when I served on the Excellence In Public Education Commission for Idaho in the 80s, almost all of the commission members were educators, administrators, and/or parents. All of the major stakeholders in public education were represented. Such stakeholder involvement was conspicuously, and suspiciously, absent when CC was drawn up.

Perhaps none have explained the problems with CC as eloquently and precisely as Carol Burris from New York. In 2010 she was named the New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association, and in 2013 she was named the New York State High School Principal of the Year. She has identified five key reasons CC is disastrous for education. She was extremely supportive of the objectives of CC, yet after thoroughly examining the program, realized the damage it would do to education. The following are some of her findings:

“Despite the claims of supporters, the standards are not built on sound research. They have never been field-tested nor proven to raise student achievement. The truth of the matter is research shows the rigor of state standards is not related to student achievement. In addition, a study of the state standards most like the Common Core by the Brookings Institution concluded that it is likely that the Common Core will have minimal effect on student learning. There is no research that supports the untested standards and practices of the Common Core.

common-core-math-problem“The Common Core standards contradict what we know about the way young children learn. Louisa Moats, one of the few early childhood experts on the team that wrote the early literacy standards, is now an outspoken critic. Why? Because the K to 3 Common Core standards disregard decades of research on early reading development. Shortly after the standards were published, 500 early-childhood experts — pediatricians, researchers and psychologists — found the early-childhood Common Core standards to be so developmentally inappropriate that they called for their suspension in grades K to 3.

“The Common Core standards for English Language Arts promote the use of questionable strategies and over-emphasize informational text. One of New Jersey’s leading literacy experts is Russ Walsh of Rider University. Walsh, as well as other literacy experts, has become uncomfortable with the beliefs that guide the Common Core ELA standards, specifically that background knowledge does not matter for reading, “close reading” should dominate literacy instruction, and that students should be reading only grade-level texts. There is also worry that informational texts are crowding out literature in English Language Arts classes.
images“The Common Core tests are unreasonably difficult and will result in unfair consequences for students. Even as New Jersey begins the PARCC exams, some states have begun giving their own Common Core tests. New York’s students have taken Common Core tests twice. Proficiency rates dramatically dropped to the low 30s, with minimal improvement in year two. Results have been especially devastating for special-education students, English language learners, and students of color and poverty — with proficiency rates in single digits for students with disabilities who are poor.

“Low test scores have consequences for kids. Students are put into remedial classes. Test scores are used to decide who gets into gifted programs and into competitive schools. In a pro-Common Core report titled “Opportunity by Design,” The Carnegie Corporation estimated that due to the Common Core, the national six-year dropout rate will double from 15 percent to 30 percent, and the four-year graduation rate will drop from 75 percent to 53 percent.

“New York students took the Common Core algebra test, which is a graduation requirement, last June. Only 22 percent met the Common Core score that is being phased in as the new passing standard for graduation. Are these fair and reasonable standards? I think not.”

This kind of top-down regulation of education is entirely the opposite of what is needed in education, and none can offer a better assessment of what works and what doesn’t than those with “boots on the ground;” the teachers, with parental input. The establishment of standards by bureaucrats and corporate sponsors, as CC was devised, is the wrong approach entirely.

Senator Mike Crapo’s (R-ID) Local Leadership in Education Act, Senate Bill 144, needs to be passed. This Act will “prohibit the Federal Government from mandating, incentivizing, or making financial support conditional upon a State, local educational agency, or school’s adoption of specific instructional content, academic standards, or curriculum, or on the administration of assessments or tests, and for other purposes.”

All efforts to roll back and rescind CC are advisable at this juncture, at the state and local level, as well. This is not a partisan issue. Something as crucial as our children’s education transcends politics, and bears substantive implications for the future of America, as a nation and as a people.

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Posted in Education, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Politics in General | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, March 9

March 10th, 2015 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

Saturday night I made the mistake of changing only a few of the clocks in the house for the time change. When we woke up Sunday morning the conversation went something like this: Linda: What time is it? Tom: Ten to five. Linda: Is that real time? Tom: Well, I set this clock to daylight savings time. Linda: Did you move the clock forward or back? Tom: I moved it the correct way, I’m sure. Linda: What time is it then? Tom: Ten minutes to five. Linda: But is that real time? Tom: I give up.

This last week was the week to dread things. My mother-in-law would have said that we had enough dread. The issue that desperately needed attention was the “permitless conceal carry” bill. I did the novel thing of reading the bill. In addition to a misplaced modifier, the language actually would have required someone who desired to conceal carry without a permit, to comply with all of the requirements to get a permit (I am not making that up). Even though the sponsors tried to argue the point, I am sure that is not what they intended at all. Other portions of the bill left our reciprocity with other states in question, which was also not intended. Others around here have been working hard on this issue and we may soon see new legislation coming forward.

Historical racing is another of those things we have been dreading. If other members of State Affairs have had the kinds of discussions I have had on this bill, they have been busy. I had one lobbyist suggest that there needs to be a broader discussion of the future of gaming in Idaho, and that a gaming commission would be the pathway forward. I asked him if he saw wide open gaming in Idaho’s future. There was no real response. The horsemen are telling us that live horse racing will be destroyed if the repeal passes, and the Tribes are telling us that the machines the horsemen are using for historical racing are not legal. It looks like we are caught in the middle of another issue. House State Affairs will begin the hearing for this one on Wednesday.

Another item that has received some attention is a new Naturopath licensing bill that does something I have not previously seen. The bill would create a second naturopath board but would allow both groups to use the same titles with a slightly different scope of practice. Two different boards for the same profession is not what we see anywhere else. This has been a ten year process that has not been resolved, and this doesn’t seem like the right approach either.

Budgets are beginning to trickle into the full House with many more to come. There is still no consensus on what will be coming forward in the way of increases for highway funding. So far everyone is thinking that the other guys should pay, but there are way too many “other guys.” Ideas are bouncing around in a very creative way. The latest is to inflict a little pain on every conceivable source. It kind of reminds me of the idea that if you hit your thumb on your right hand with a hammer after you hit the left one, it won’t hurt so badly. But hurt it will.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General, Rep. Tom Loertscher, Taxes | No Comments »

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