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The Golden Verses Of The Stoic

Seneca and Epictetus refer to the Golden Verses of Pythagoras , which happens to provide a good framework for developing a daily routine, bookended by morning and evening contemplative practices. Zeno of Citium , who founded Stoicism in 301 BC, expressed his doctrines in notoriously terse arguments and concise maxims.  However, Chrysippus, the third head of the Stoic school, wrote over 700 books fleshing these ideas out and adding complex arguments to support them. 

Recent Posts and Time in the Trenches

This AP-History issue got under my skin with very little resistance from me, pulling me into several long days of research, and debate, looking for answers and putting out a great deal of effort in finding something, anything that would help to keep Colorado from going where Texas has gone. I was asked, "why?" last night. 

I don't know how much you understand about the position we have put our K-12 teachers in. They work many hours a week without pay. Expenses for supplies often come out of their own pockets. For the college degrees they have, they earn far less than others with the same and often those with lesser education and expertise. They are constantly up against troubles between the schools, the boards and the unions. Their voices are mute, their expertise and experience ignored, and still they teach. -- well.. they use to still teach.

As the Atlantic noted in a piece on teacher resignations: “…anywhere between 40 and 50 percent of teachers will leave the classroom within their first five years (that includes the nine and a half percent that leave before the end of their first year.) Certainly, all professions have turnover, and some shuffling out the door is good for bringing in young blood and fresh faces. But, turnover in teaching is higher than other professions.Approximately 15.7 percent of teachers leave their posts every year, and 40 percent of teachers who pursue undergraduate degrees in teaching never even enter the classroom at all."

Data shows that beginning teachers, in particular, report that one of the main factors behind their decision to depart is a lack of adequate support from school administrators (Ingersoll, 2003). Induction is less than adequate, programs change, new policies are often implement mid-year, the frustration level is high in this area. 

More than three-fourths linked their quitting to low salaries. But even more of them indicated that one of four different school working conditions was behind their decision to quit: student discipline problems; lack of support from the school administration; poor student motivation; and lack of teacher influence over schoolwide and classroom decision making. (Source: National Center for Education Statistics, 1994-1995 Teacher Followup Survey.)

Nearly  9% few teachers come into the trade, this is a trend that has been going on since 2007.

Face it, we have hacked and slashed and cut so often that even those who 'feel a calling' aren't answering any more. 

On top of this, there is a growing trend among law makers and politicians which seems -- nothing empirical but the gnawing feeling is there -- that public schools and teachers themselves are targets of a war. The final goal of this war is unclear, but there are several in congress and in heads of state which publicly declare the education system is unwanted. If you think about that for a moment, men and women in positions which require votes to maintain, actively proclaiming that the Department of Education should be abolished and projects like Common Core, which not only help teachers with induction, but provide by its design a national support group -- the possible objectives are a bit scary. 

Law Maker's who mark education as an unneeded public service (by degrees)

"We must also explore new ideas, such as giving parents alternatives to underperforming public schools through experimentation with voucher programs.  Finally, parental involvement and responsibility are integral elements of a successful education". -- Richard Shelby

Michele Bachmann
Bachmann would abolish the Department of Education, and she has said she would give all the money previously invested in the department to state and localities.

Newt Gingrich
Gingrich, who called the student-loan program an "absurdity," would not abolish the Department of Education, instead saying he would make it a research and education center. He would dramatically shrink the department and remove all of its regulations. Gingrich would support forcing more students into work-study programs.

Jon Huntsman
Huntsman prefers local control on education and plans to abolish No Child Left Behind. The former Utah Gov. defied No Child Left Behind in 2005 by signing a law that gave Utah's education standards priority over federal requirements.

Gary Johnson
Johnson would abolish the Department of Education, and he is an advocate for homeschooling.

Ron Paul
Paul's "Plan to Restore America" calls for the elimination of the Department of Education, among others. Though his plan makes no mention of what would happen to them, Paul does not intend to eliminate federal student-loan programs. He believes the student-loan aspect should be taken out of the federal government and handled elsewhere.

Rick Perry
Perry would abolish the Department of Education, and he believes the federal government should get out of education altogether. He has already castrated his own school system with budget cuts, and has even hailed the bringing in of a whole new text curriculum that melds in the religious beliefs of the state education board with the social studies and history text. (very scary)

Mitt Romney
Romney was in favor of eliminating the Department of Education in the 1990s but praised the department in 2007. He has been a supporter of No Child Left Behind and President Obama's "Race to the Top" program.

Rick Santorum
Santorum said he does not have a "hit list" of departments he wants to eliminate. He would not eliminate the Department of Education, but he wants it to play a less prominent role in higher education.

Blake Whitten, a UI statistics lecturer and faculty adviser for UI Youth for Ron Paul, said he favors eliminating the Education Department because the candidates' plans are proactive in making budgetary cuts before they're forced on students.

States are Funding Schools Less Now than 2008
At least 35 states are providing less funding per student for the 2013-14 school year than they did before the recession hit.  Fourteen of these states have cut per-student funding by more than 10 percent.  

At least 15 states are providing less funding per student to local school districts in the new school year than they provided a year ago.  This is despite the fact that most states are experiencing modest increases in tax revenues.
Where funding has increased, it has generally not increased enough to make up for cuts in past years.  For example, New Mexico is increasing school funding by $72 per pupil this year.  But that is too small to offset the state’s $946 per-pupil cut over the previous five years. 


The school systems have been going through changes for a long time but its never felt like they were under attack before. Worse, it also feels like they are abandoned by every one else. The rhetoric, the propaganda, the environment is eroding the system away. AP Programs are just the next step in that erosion and no, I don't think this particular situation is purposefully helping that erosion, but it is telling that a person or people can look at a system like education, and brush it aside, disregarding any level of importance or  worth to be above his own goal -- and then to find so many bystanders who were passive about it until the controversy, who are now eager to jump on the war horses with him -- with no investment or payoff at stake for themselves.

The game is afoot...

I've been actively on this topic of the AP controversy for a couple of weeks now, and going through forums, and comment areas for news sites, and often I'm the only voice in the crowd who views the value of program as something above political issues -- its value toward future college benefits outweighs issues which can be talked over during this year, and addressed during summer when it will not interfere with education activities. The agendas are always more important, and the urgency is astounding. 

Just from my own observations and in my own opinion, I would have to say that %75 of the commentators for articles like this one, never thought about the issue at the student level at all. I'm very sure that a higher percentage of the authors of articles like the one in News Week didn't consider this level of ramification. 


Apologies if all of this sounds too 'liberal' and touchy-feely. I really don't have a party preference. I vote as I feel -- per person per office. I don't have an agenda other than what I've described. I'm a novelist, a writer, and not interested in continuing the political effort beyond this issue. But this issue is important to me, and I do want to see it settled.