Responding to the ridicule of teachers and the teaching profession by politicians and self proclaimed "experts"!
"Where is Albert Shanker now that we need him?" - Walt Sautter

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Future of the Future

I hate to repeat myself (not really) but in light of the attached article I think it is appropriate. As you will see, all the fears of robots driving the population into the unemployment lines is clearly outlined. It certainly adds to my conjure about the future of the American work force. 
Most current discussions of retraining the unemployed and preparing the youth for new careers seems to center on developing STEM skills. Based on the attached article even these skills will likely be supplanted by robots equipped with A.I.
We have already seen cashiers replaced by self checkout robots, bank tellers replaced by ATMs, materials handlers at Amazon replaced by automatic merchandise selectors, draftsmen replaced by CAD programs, computers and the Internet substituted for teachers and the list goes on.  Based on Moore's Law the time in which complete robotization will be achieved becomes shorter and shorter (note- Moore's Law tells us that computing power doubles every 18 months and so far it seems to be correct). It appears that no one and no career or profession is or will be immune.
And what should young people be learning to ensure a place in the future workforce? How should the unemployed be retrained so that they don't wind up re-unemployed?
One might suggest that only the trades will be safe havens - but I'm not so sure. The use of nail guns and engineered lumber has allowed a smaller crew to do the same amount of work in a shorter time than  just a decade or two ago. 
Plumber's now use PVC pipe and snap on fittings again reducing the time to complete a job.
Electrical work can now easily be done by the homeowner in many cases by using remote, wireless switches and relays. The result is fewer job for electrical tradesmen. The list goes on and gets longer by the day.
The recent murders in Paris and California helped to bring all of this to mind once again. I have read just recently that one of the greatest recruiting tools used by ISIS is the offer of a job (as shitty as it is I guess they think it is better than no job) to the myriad of Middle Eastern unemployed youth. From what I've read theyoffer good pay (from oil money) and benefits besides!
Based on this observation, what can we look forward to in America when most jobs have been eliminated? 
Maybe it's time for our politicians to start addressing this issue rather than just attacking each other at their sideshow events??
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 Here my previous article on robots and employment in you are interested. Below is the article I made mention of in my opening line. 
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8/14/15
A collision between robotization and student loan debt is inevitability on course. Tens of thousands of students are now being prepared for jobs that will soon be replaced by robots and A.I.(owned by corporations and the wealthy). An even sadder part is that they are incurring trillions of dollars of debt to become eligible for the non-existent jobs of the future. (See my post  - http://teachersdontsuck.blogspot.com/2015/07/i-robots.html). 
Not only will they have the prospect of few available jobs but also the burden of huge debt which they will have no means to repay. 
How will the housing market endure? Who will buy the new "driver-less" cars? Will the middle classes' disappearing act finally be completed?
Might these be bigger problems than even terrorism for the capitalist system in the not too distant future?
Even less encouraging is that I have heard few it any politicians addressing the likelihood of these probable circumstances and how they should be addressed?
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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Consequences of Technology in Education and Elsewhere

I recently wrote an article (June 2015) http://teachersdontsuck.blogspot.com/2015/07/i-robots.html about the rise of robots. Here are some of the things which I mentioned.

"Another question becomes – what happens once robots assume an overwhelming presence in the American job market?"

"Not so fast (with your applause) – the people who will be working less and enjoying all the extra leisure time (unemployment) will not own the robots – they will be owned by wealthy corporations and individuals and I don’t believe they will be inclined to share the rewards the robots provide with the society at large."

"So now the robotic age will have another startling, back door effect on education. If only a very few jobs will be left by robotization what kind of jobs will they be and what skills can be taught to allow people to obtain those remaining jobs?"

video

The other night I viewed a piece on NJN News which provides an example validating my observations about the ever increasing rise of technology and the threats it carries. Here is that clip.

Video Note:
An interesting point about the influence of technology on the automobile repair business is, that starting way back in the 80s, manufacturers began  producing vehicles which required specialized tools for repairing each model. The result was the independent shop owner had to buy a myriad to tools to stay in business.Many were driven out of business by these increased costs. But that was not the end of car manufacturers attempts to eliminate their competitors.
With the advent of computer run vehicles, manufacturers no longer have to develop and produce manufactured parts needing special tools. Now, all they need do is write a few lines software code to box out independent competition for good!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

There's Gold In Them There (Charter) Schools !

I had a conversation with a friend the other day about the "non profit" status of professional sports leagues such as the NFL, NBA and MLB and their accumulation of tax free monies which then pay gigantic salaries to the head honchos . Eventually, the conversation became one about charter schools and their "non profit" status. I was quick to mention that I won't be surprised if the same might be true in the case of charter schools as it is in pro sports. Thus I went to the Internet and found two eye opening articles which validated my suspicions.

  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-singer/charter-school-executive-profit_b_5093883.html

  https://greatschoolwars.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/eic-oct_11.pdf

Here are some excerpts from those articles:



Friday, September 25, 2015

Allegiance To the People or the King?

Gov. Chris Christie has used his veto power more aggressively than any other New Jersey governor, rejecting more than 350 bills in five years in Trenton. His vetoes—from mundane bills related to fiscal matters to more controversial measures such as gun control—have never been overridden.  Lawmakers failed in all 48 attempts to override him with Republican sponsors of the bills and many of those who originally voted for the bills refusing to override his vetoes!
We must assume that the bills were considered to be in the best interests of the citizens of New Jersey by those who authorized them originally. Otherwise why would they have voted for them (many in overwhelming numbers) in the first place?
Then suddenly, when His Majesty vetoes them they are longer deemed beneficial to the citizenry? How could this be possible in all 48 override attempts?
It is seems that the majority of the Republicans in Trenton are not really interested in serving the people of the State but instead are solely absorbed with serving the interests of the king in the Governor's Office and his political ambitions. What has made the "lawmakers" in Trenton so meek, groveling and genuflecting and willing to serve the interests of one man over those of the people? 
Is it because our governor king has become New Jersey's spell casting Rasputin or the file hoarding J. Edgar? 
I can think of no other possibilities, can you?



Monday, September 21, 2015

The Pot and the Kettle

I just read the letter sent to the staff  by Rutgers President Richard Barchi regarding the RU football coach's (Kyle Flood) fine and suspension over an NCAA infraction. Here are some excerpts from that letter with the words that stood out underlined.
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"Over the past three years, we have taken significant steps in establishing a strong compliance and oversight culture and organization on campus, including the creation of the Office of Enterprise Risk ManagementEthics and Compliance in 2013 that reports directly to me and to the Audit Committee of the Board of Governors."

"we have an obligation to provide outstanding educational opportunities, to ensure high quality and productive research, to serve the local, national and world communities, and to do so with integrity"

"to strengthen our programs in Ethics and Privacy.  Earlier this summer, that office recruited new expert leadership in each of these areas as well as a new Director of Ethics who brings to the University in-depth experience with the New Jersey State Ethics Commission"
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Seeing the words "ethics" and "integrity" coming from Mr. Barchi in any context reminds me of something I wrote back in July of 2013. It also reminded me of the "the pot calling the kettle black" cliché.

Now, I certainly don't think Flood was right in doing what he did and he should be punished but then again should someone with Barchi's baggage be writing "Holier than thou" proclamations  about it? 


Saturday, July 20, 2013


I Have a "Conflict in Understanding" !


When I was elected to the BOE, I was required to give up a little part time job videoing the high school football games (which I had done for twenty years prior) because it was considered a "conflict of interest" and an "ethics violation"?
The "conflict of interest" was not $317,000. It amounted to about $800 per year !




Saturday, September 19, 2015

Trick (by "The Governor") and Treat (for his Buds)

The following two statements jump out at me. "the State Election Law Enforcement Commission, which by law, must include two Democrats and two Republications" and "Christie recently nominated a new member to the election commission but selected another Republican... The commission still has only one Democrat".
Essentially, what this means based on the judge's opinion, is the commission will be castrated hence forth by "The Governor's" appointment of a Republican. It can proceed against no elected officials suspected of illegal or unethical actions because it can never have a "quorum".
Beautiful for Governor Porkchop and his buds.
I guess I have to give him credit. He is a master of trickery and deceit.




Wednesday, September 16, 2015

When It Comes to Sneaky - These Guys Never Disappoint

Mr. Christie (I really can't call him Governor Christie because he is never here acting as New Jersey's governor) should be privatized as soon as possible. I can't understand why an absentee public employee, involved with multiple, underhanded sleazy dealings by both him and his cronies has not been subjected to recall? 
I suppose the only answer is, having been a Federal Prosecutor, he has a pile of dirt on numerous politicians and others, tucked away in a file cabinet somewhere (J. Edgar style).
The only other possibility is the citizens and politicians of New Jersey are too stupid or lazy to "throw the bum out".

P.S.
Want a list of "The Governor's" shenanigans. Here's a bunch I can think of right off the bat.

Bridgegate (of course)
Harrison Train Station (his brother's company benefited handsomely)
Hunterdon  County Sheriff's Office Investigation (he squashed it)
Exxon Mobile "Settlement?"
RU President on Boards of Trustees of companies doing business with RU (okay by Christie)
Pension "Reform" renege
PA Appointments (Samson et al)
Loss of $400M Fed Ed Funds (and put it all on Schindler) 
Canceled ARC Tunnel (cost jobs & money during the height of the recession)
Trips and Entertainment from "Friends" - Jones, Adelson, etc.
Held Special Elections ($24M) for his personal political advantage
Screwed up the Sandy Aid program and paid $30M to company that did it
Used Sandy Funds for political advertising






Friday, September 11, 2015

A Ticket to the Good Life???

I happened to notice the "U,S, Consumer Debt Profile" in the newspaper the other day (It is shown below). I calculated the monthly payments required for each debt and added a debt payment required for a car loan. 
It appears that the typical middle class person (a college graduate) will see $1710 regularly consumed from his monthly paycheck by these ongoing obligations. This will require a pretax income of $28,160 (assuming a federal tax bracket of 25% and not considering FICA, unemployment, pension, health care contributions and state tax withholdings). 
The average starting salary for a college graduate is $45,327. His salary in five years will be $50,044 (calculated at a compounded rate of 2% per year which is the typical rate of  salary increase). This leaves $16,413 after federal taxes but again not including the aforementioned withholdings. 
This is $1367 monthly or about $300 weekly left for retirement savings, child rearing, food, clothing, utilities, insurance, education and other essentials?

Some average tradesman salaries (and remember - no college debt and they have been earning during the four to six years while college students spend at school)

Plumbers -- averaging $52,390 per year.
Nonresidential construction workers averaged $48,330.
Brick layers $54,000.

Am I suggesting that students should abandon the idea of a college education? Not at all - but I am suggesting that it shouldn't necessarily be viewed as a "ticket to the good life" (with a gigantic price tag) as it once was! 


Thursday, September 10, 2015

And The Beat Goes On! (Our beating that is)

When you read the article below - don't be shocked! It's business as usual. I wrote about this very thing (http://teachersdontsuck.blogspot.com/2012/05/if-this-doesnt-piss-you-off-check-your.html) in 2012 and I guess nobody read it or nobody cared.
This was just after the much ballyhooed "Pension Reform Bill"(which "The Governor" reneged on and I think probably planned to right from the get go) was passed. Interestingly, not one word about the double dipping of cronies and the connected was in that bill. None of these inequities were even tangentially addressed.
During the time this bill was being discussed our "governor?" (I think he's still the governor in spite of the fact he's been out of the State over half of the time) was already campaigning for reelection. During this time he garnered support from numerous prominent New Jersey Democrats. If you would like to know who those Dems are and why they would jump ship and stand behind a loud mouthed, bullying oaf, the attached article and my post cited above may help to provide some of the answer.
Additionally, in 2011 there were 420,000 public employees in New Jersey. In the 2012 election Christie received 1,278,932 votes against Buono's 809,978. It's hard to understand how Buono could receive only 810K with 420K public workers with their friends and families voting with them for her?
The only conclusions that can be drawn is that few public employees actually voted or that they were actually stupid enough to vote against their own best interests and voted for Governor Porkchop. Either one of these explanations is disheartening to say the least. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

This Guy's Got Big Ones (Besides the Belly)


When it comes to a “bad deal” Chris Christie should be an authority. He’s engaged New Jersey in so many.

·      *   Lost $400M Federal Education grant due to shoddy paperwork (and then of course blamed the Education Commissioner)
·       *  Rejected the Arc  Tunnel Project (about $240M which would have helped to cure the transportation morass in NJ and would have provided thousands of jobs) and then stole the money to balance the budget.
·         * Spent $24M for a “special election” to bolster his political standing in the upcoming governor’s race
·        *  Ballyhooed a Pension Reform deal and then backed out  when the time came to make good
·        *  Spent $7M for a lawyer pal to write him an excuse in the Bridgate Scandal
·       *   Settled (is trying) to settle with Exxon Mobil for a pittance while accepting large contributions to the RNC
·        *  Used Sandy funds for advertisements including his political promos
·         * Hired an inept company to oversee Sandy funding and then fired  them with a $33M payout

Yes - when it comes to making shitty deals for New Jersey citizens  - he does know his stuff!

Now “The Governor” is holding a press conference (and actually in NJ for a change)  to “advise” Booker about the Iran Deal. He must be kidding!!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Is Anybody Looking Down the Tracks?


  A collision between robotization and student loan debt is inevitability on course. Tens of thousands of students are now being prepared for jobs that will soon be replaced by robots and A.I.(owned by corporations and the wealthy). An even sadder part is that they are incurring trillions of dollars of debt to become eligible for the non-existent jobs of the future. (See my post  - http://teachersdontsuck.blogspot.com/2015/07/i-robots.html). 
Not only will they have the prospect of few available jobs but also the burden of huge debt which they will have no means to repay. 
How will the housing market endure? Who will buy the new "driver-less" cars? Will the middle classes' disappearing act finally be  completed?
Might these be bigger problems than even terrorism for the capitalist system in the not too distant future?
Even less encouraging is that I have heard few it any politicians addressing the likelihood of these probable circumstances and how they should be addressed?



Monday, August 10, 2015

Christie Sees A Soft "Punching" Bag - Women


In the recent furor over “The Donald’s” comments about women on the GOP debate platform the comments of “The Governor” have been overlooked and ignored. The “Punch in the face” comment has been barely remarked upon by the media and I am sure that is to the dismay of our attention seeking Governor.
After reading about the hubbub regarding Trump’s insulting women I began to wonder if there might be a relationship between his comments and those of Christie. Then it occurred to me. Why are Christie’s vicious attacks always aimed at teachers and teacher’s unions and rarely against other public sector unions (police, firemen, etc.)?
Why does he feel that he can be as aggressive and insulting as he pleases when it comes to teachers?  I may have discovered the answer.
Could it be that he feels free to attack a predominately female organization and expects little retaliation? Could it be that he has little respect for the profession because it is largely composed of women?
Could it be that his reserve in criticizing and debasing the police and fire unions is because in it mostly comprised of males?
Bullies generally do pick on the ones they perceive as weakest and unwilling or incapable of effectively fighting back. Could this be the case with “The Governor”?

PS- If he wants to “punch someone in the face” he is welcome to stop over at any time (without his police escort) and he better make his first punch count !!


If he sends me an email I will eagerly reply with my address and time!

Friday, August 7, 2015

A Stand Up Teacher is Laid to Rest


Teachers can learn some valuable lessons from this man's obit on how to effectively respond to the bullying and bashing by today's politicians.  

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I Robots

Here is an insert from an article which I read in Sunday’s newspaper. It shows the likelihood of jobs being replaced by robots in the near future. I noticed that elementary school teaching was listed near the bottom.  Now I emphasized elementary because I believe the advent of robotization certainly does apply to secondary and college teaching. Upper level teachers are already being replaced by a robot called the Internet. I hear ads over and over about “On Line Degrees” from a plethora of colleges and universities. A single Internet course can serve dozens if not hundreds of student and be operated by just a few individual “professors”.
With the current budget crisis in most every state, how long will it be before this same approach filters down into secondary education? And what about primary education – that might take a bit longer but if a meaningful segment of the public can be convinced that home schooling with the help of on line instruction can provide a substantial primary education; then it too will become robotized.
Another question becomes – what happens once robots assume an overwhelming presence in the American job market? I have recently read that robots can work at lower cost than the cheapest overseas labor. They never take a sick day; they never go on break, no vacations, no pensions and no morale problems (and no unions)!  Some will say – yes but we will always need people to make the robots. Sorry – they can make themselves!  Yes but we will always need people to fix the robots. Sorry again – they fix themselves! We will always need people to program the robots. Sorry once more – once they are programmed the job is done and quite possibly they will be able to reprogram themselves when necessary (A.I.)!
The response to these points by many is “Great! That means people will have more leisure time and won’t have to work nearly as much”. We will all be able to reap the rewards of robotization. Not so fast – the people who will be working less and enjoying all the extra leisure time will not own the robots – they will be owned by wealthy corporations and individuals and I don’t believe they would be inclined to share the rewards the robots provide them with the society at large.
Well then who is going to pay all the part time workers and unemployed a full time salary? The government which is by enlarged controlled by the wealthy?  I am sure it will have no interest in making up the income lost by the unemployed and partly employed “leeches” who have been replaced by robots.
So now the robot age will have another startling, back door effect on education. If only a very few jobs will be left by robotization what kind of jobs will they be and what skills can be taught to allow people to obtain those remaining jobs? 
Additionally, if large numbers or workers are replaced by robots, what happens to the middle class and how will they be able to pay the taxes necessary to support the schools in the first place?

In summary it seems that an uncertain road lies ahead with respect to the rise of technology as it is related to the American and World economies. Even more disturbingly, I hear few if any politicians and leaders remarking on this topic much less suggesting solutions.