Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Why Veterans Are Important to Our Nation's History and Future

Each year I have my speech students participate in the VFW's Voice of Democracy competition.  When I am trying to wrangle up the top speakers in the classes to record their speeches on a CD and get it to the area VFW chapter, I sometimes wonder why I bother.  However, it is the journey that the students take when it comes to writing these speeches that makes it worthwhile.

This years topic, "Why Veterans Are Important to Our Nation's History and Future," proved to be less of a challenge for the students than last year's.  The students dug into the issue with expected ideas.  They explored some of our earliest veterans from the Revolution and talked about the history of wars and the young men and women that fought in them.  One thing that is interesting was that this year's topic only focuses on the past and the future: It seems to ignore the present.

Student's were shocked and a few were very frustrated by the treatment that many veterans receive today.  They explored the problem of homelessness among the veterans.  They discovered statistics like
Although flawless counts are impossible to come by – the transient nature of homeless populations presents a major difficulty – the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimatesthat 49,933 veterans are homeless on any given night.
They also examined the health of our veterans and found that it is believed that 22 veterans commit suicide each day.  They looked into the rates of PTSD and found out
Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF): About 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans (or between 11-20%) who served in OIF or OEF have PTSD in a given year.
One of the more common conclusions that student drew was simply that we should be very proud of those that served our country.  The work and sacrifice of those veterans of the past are an vital component of what makes this nation wonderful.  They also concluded that if we don't start taking care of the veterans of the present, there may be no veterans of the future.

Today, politicians will go around making speeches about how much the veteran means to them, how they are the veterans friend,  and how they will always be there to honor the veterans sacrifice.  Don't believe their words.  Make them show it not through press releases, but action that says: I respect you and your sacrifice and instead of benefiting the corporation or Wall Street or special interest/lobby group, I will fully fund veteran's health, education, and other benefits first.  

Thank you to our veterans of the past, future and present.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

My Predictions on the Elections

Cory at Madville Times asks people to go ahead and make their predictions.  I thought I would give it a shot, but for a disclaimer, if you could see my fantasy football team's record, you would know that I am not the best at predicting success and outcomes.

In the Senate race:

Mike Rounds with 42%

Rick Weiland with 38%

Larry Pressler with 19%

Gordan Howie with less than 1%

In the House Race

Kristi Noem with 58%

Corrina Robinson with 42%

In the Governor Race

Daugaard with 65%

Wismer with 28%

Meyers with 7%

Initiated Measure 17

Yes with 52%

No with 48%

Initiated Measure 18

Yes 57%

No 43%

Amendment Q

No 56%

Yes 44%

District 16 House

Herman Otten 70%

Issac Latteral 50%

Rich Schriever 35%

The National Senate Race

Republicans 53 seats

Democrats 44 seats

Independents 3 seats

Change in Washington's climate and culture?

ZERO PERCENT

Chance OBAMA will get blamed for the Republican's inability to lead for the next 2 years-

100 Percent

Monday, November 3, 2014

Using SD Common Sense in Casting Your Vote Tomorrow

Mike Rounds like to tell people that Washington needs some South Dakota common sense.  I think he is absolutely right; a vote for Rick Weiland means using common sense in protecting the people.

The biggest question that Rounds never explored when regurgitating his catch phrase is what is "common sense."  The Cambridge Dictionary online defines common sense as:
 the ability to use good judgment in making decisions and to livein a reasonable and safe way
Unless the South Dakota version of common sense is the opposite of that definition, there is no way Mike Rounds represents South Dakota common sense. 

First is the idea of using "good judgement" in making decisions.  Mike has failed on this in so many ways- 
Trusting Joop Bollen and Richard Benda to run the EB-5 program

Using state goods for personal use

Misusing federal money to hide mistakes:
–Rounds also took $26 million in federal dollars sent to help South Dakota’s children in light of our woefully underfunded educational system in South Dakota. Remember he did this while he was cutting education in the state by 25 percent in his eight years in office. So, what did Rounds do with this federal money that was supposed to be spent on education? He squirreled it away into the state’s general fund to mask his massive debts.

Being Honest about Medicare, Ellsworth, or simply read the editorial from the Mobridge Tribune to cover his many lapses of honesty.

Remember that to have common sense is to live in a reasonable and safe way.  It was under Mike that we experienced a huge budget problem that Dennis Daugaard explained was why he had to gut education and hurt every student and every person connected to the education field in this state.  It was Mike Rounds that used eminent domain to take land from farmers for his Transcanda pipeline.  Let's not forget EB-5.  

If you want a candidate that displays South Dakota common sense, then you need to vote for small business owner, family man, and hard-working Rick Weiland.  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mike Rounds Is the Candidate of NO!

Tuesday is nearly here and things will clear up.  The Republicans are starting to do their touchdown dance of taking over the Senate.  There are still a few hurdles to overcome.  One of those hurdles is simply that the GOP seems to offer nothing than other than "NOT OBAMA!"  They live in this mind-set as the party of no.

Mike Rounds clearly epitomizes that mind set.  If you caught his performance on the KELO debate, he was running against Obama and not Weiland or Pressler.  His empty suit and empty promises will seem to fit in well with the GOP in Washington, but is that what we want?  This attitude was a party that brought you government shut down, a costly and extended delay in the Farm bill, and as led to the most ineffective Congress in, well, pretty much the founding of the nation.  No on immigration reform, no on  budget reform, no on EB-5 reform, no, no, no.  

If the Republicans falter to take over the Senate, it will be this lack of vision that could very well take them down.  As Bill Whalen states on the Daily Beast
Because someone has to be a contrarian in what otherwise looks like a bad November for President Obama and his party: what if Republicans manage not to gain control of the Senate in this election?  
You couldn’t blame it on the usual suspects—a lack of money, or an over-abundance of bad candidates, or uphill climbs in hostile Obama-friendly states. 
A more likely culprit: a strategic miscalculation on the part of GOP Senate candidates nationwide and the party elders back on Capitol Hill. While making this year’s races a referendum on Obama and his policies, Republicans ignored a fundamental rule of congressional challenges: to get to Washington, one has to run against Washington’s ways—specifically, the accumulation of job seniority and personal wealth that makes Senate incumbents seem long in the tooth and short on integrity. 
Mike Rounds has failed to earn your vote if you want to stand for anything real when it comes to changing Washington.  If you want to maintain the gridlock that brought you the government shut down, if you want the maintain the gridlock that brought you a delayed farm bill, if you want empty promises of repeal and replace of Obamacare, then vote for Mike Rounds.  If you want to hear no to immigration reform, no to making sure more people have access to health insurance, and no to helping students find ways to finance education, then cast a ballot for Mike Rounds.  

If you would like to see action immigration reform, if you would like to see college students getting a break to avoid crushing debt, if you would like to see someone that will try to advance legislation to avoid a government shutdown, if you would like to see someone that will not just trust foreign companies and instead will make sure to protect you first, then cast your ballot for Rick Weiland.  We simply cannot afford six more years of a party of NO!  We need to start accomplishing something, and you can do your part by voting for Weiland.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Vote for Mike Rounds is a Vote for EB-5

The only thing that Mike Rounds seems to be able to say in tonight's debate on KELO is that a vote for any of my opponents is a vote for Barak Obama; however, when asked if he would support repealing the EB-5 program all he could say was that we should look at it.  That is clear politician speak for I will give a wink and a nod to the program and still use it to line mine and my friend's pockets.  

All of the candidates other than Mike Rounds were clear that this program was failed because of corruption.  Larry Pressler, Rick Weiland, and Gordan Howie say no to EB-5.  Mike Rounds says yes to EB-5.  We should trust Mike Rounds because,... because,... oh shoot, I can't think of a reason.

Here is a man that says that he investigates things like the Keystone pipeline that could destroy the South Dakota's main aquifer by asking the people that want to build Keystone XL for technical advice.  "I mean, why would they lie about something like that," say Round.  I think this statement tells you everything you need to know about Mike Rounds and his ability to lead and to support South Dakotans in the Senate.

So remember, a vote for Mike Rounds is a vote for EB-5 and anything else big business wants because why would they lie?   

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Daugaard's Salary Should Be Set at $3,200 a Year

Daugaard likes to compare apples and oranges when it comes to education as an excuse to keep teacher pay so low.  It is only fair that he should live under the same logic.  When you compare Daugaard's performance in office with that of the Lennox mayor, it is clear that Daugaard is getting paid way too much money.

The salary for mayor in Lennox is $3,200 a year and $40 per special meeting.  Daugaard's salary is $98,000.  

Lennox has experienced less crime, has a lower unemployment rate, the local school's ACT test scores are slightly higher than the state average, the roads in the town are in about as good of shape as the roads around the state, and while we too have issues surrounding favoritism, the town of Lennox has never given tens of millions of dollars to recruit businesses to have them go belly up.

By all measurements, the Mayor of Lennox is doing much better than the Governor.  There is no reason to pay him this outrageous salary.  $3,200 should be more than enough to compensate him for the work he has done.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Only Daugaard Could Pull Me Back In

I had taken a much needed break from blogging.  School had started.  The debate season is soon approaching and that has meant that I have spent nearly 50-60 hours at the school building between teaching, coaching, and helping referring volleyball.  My boys are involved in Boy Scouts, going to sporting events in town, and basic life.  It was nice to avoid taking an hour or more in writing a blog that is researched and deliberate (for the most part).  The Democrats are on life support with Rick Weiland.  Corrina Robinson has not been able to mount anything resembling a real campaign and Susan Wismer is not much better.  I was prepared to accept a Republican sweep; not happy about it but prepared to accept it.

Then Dennis Daugaard opened his mouth and pulled me back into the fray.  If there was ever any doubt about how Dennis Daugaard views educators and about how ignorant Dennis Daugaard is when it comes to the field of education, he has slammed shut the door on those uncertainties.  In an interview with the Argus Leader, Daugaard is quoted:
In an interview last week with 100 Eyes Daugaard said: "You can't say that you won't obtain quality without high compensation. I was just at O'Gorman (High School). The teachers at O'Gorman are paid, as a group, less than the Sioux Falls School District. Their students achieve better."
Daugaard was always a supporter of the private school system in Dell Raipids.  Most of his children went through the private school until of course it could not offer something that a child wanted and then he turned to the public system.  I have no qualms with private schools.  I taught at a private school in my first year of teaching.  The ignorance that Daugaard shows is that he thinks that the population at a private school like O'Gorman is the same as the population at Sioux Falls Washington.

At the private school that I taught many years ago, there was no special education department.  We didn't have IEPs.  Students whose needs that could not be met went to the public school in the town.  These students came from mostly stable homes.  The majority of them would be considered middle class families or high income families.  The overwhelming majority of the students were Caucasian.  That could not be said for the public school in Storm Lake, Iowa.  It is ridiculous to even think that the challenges faced by teachers in that school were the same as the ones I faced in the private school.

He then goes to the same old drivel of how it is not the state that sets teacher pay, it is the schools that set it.  
"The state doesn't control teacher pay," Daugaard said. "To point the finger at the state and say you are the problem here, it just, it's not accurate. If (school districts) want to spend more money for teacher pay, that's what they can do."
I AM SO SICK OF THIS LINE OF CRAP!  I appreciate my school board.  They are very frugal with the money that they have available to control.  When you only give school districts a certain amount of money, that money must be set aside to pay for all of the normal operating expenses.  When districts get some additional money, guess what the vast majority do with it: Give it to teachers as a means to increase salaries.  Daugaard controls what teachers get paid and clearly thinks that teacher gets far too much money right now. 

Daugaard will win next week.  This is true.  What else is going to be true is that Daugaard will do everything in his power to humiliate and belittle the education field.  We must turn our focus not on Daugaard who will have no one to answer to except the business elite that control him, but instead on the Senators and Representatives that must at least answer to the people every two years.

I think the feeling is best summed up by teacher and parent of an O'Gorman student, Travis Dahle, who posted on Facebook:
Dennis Daugaard - you owe an apology to every single teacher and student in this state. I may have disagreed with some of your policies, but I at least respected you in the past. That ship has sailed. If ANY educator thinks that this person should be re-elected, then you should leave the profession now.
Daugaard is an enemy of public education.  He has never, ever shown any respect for education.  When you wonder why some districts are struggling to fill positions, the management of the state by Daugaard is the key reason.  Daugaard may win, but he should get zero percent of the education vote: ZERO!