Half The Schools in Kansas City, MO closing down!

Stumbled across this article tonight:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/07/kansas-city-public-school_n_489145.html

Ever think of moving to Missouri?  It’s really nice.  I love it here.  And man will you be impressed when you come and take a look at our schools!  Your kids’ mouths will drop as you tour our campuses.

Olympic sized swimming pools, recording studios,  fencing programs… yep, I’m not kidding.  Sounds like a private country club for the rich, but no.  It’s Missouri’s bloated public schools.  Apparently a belief has set in that schools are not about educating kids in government, economics, mathematics, and science, but are instead social clubs.

“School officials say the cuts are necessary to keep the district from plowing through what little is left of the $2 billion it received as part of a groundbreaking desegregation case.”

2 BILLION!!!  That’s not million.  That’s BILLIONS.  We’re talking Bs here.  Not Gs.  Not Mils.  Bs!  One city!  One school district!  And what did they spend it on?

The district went on a buying spree that included a six-lane indoor track and a mock court complete with a judge’s chamber and jury deliberation room. But student achievement remained low, and the anticipated flood of students from the suburbs turned out to be more like a trickle.

Who needs an imagination.  I’m sure the kids could never imagine what a court proceeding would look like without a complete mock courtroom and judge’s chamber.  Back when I was in school, we had a field trip and visited the courthouse.  Man, those were the days!

Hard to remember the old times.  Back then I remember the gym coach blowing the whistle and us all running outside around the lawn, and then playing soccer, kickball, and baseball out there.  Today?  No way.  That’s totally old fashioned.  Who goes outside?   They need an indoor six-lane track!

“This year alone officials expect to overspend the $316 million budget by $15 million and if nothing changes, the district will be in the red by 2011.”

And no matter how much money we pump into our schools, the kids test scores keep dropping.

Kansas City is among the most striking examples of the challenges of saving urban school districts. The city used gobs of cash to improve facilities, but boosting lagging test scores and stemming the exodus of students were more elusive.

So after blowing all the money, now our schools crawl to the Federal Government for more cash.  But uh oh, Obama’s administration has blown all that money.  There’s trillions allocated for the nuclear missile program to blow up the non-existent Soviet Union.  Trillions for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Trillions for Wall Street and the banker bailouts.  But schools?   Healthcare?   Nah.

Close the schools down guys.  Don’t have insurance?  Can’t afford it even though unemployment is rampant?  Sorry!

Kansas City isn’t far from where I live.   Our government politicians, school administrators, the whole lot of them.  All complete failures.  No priorities at all.

One of the youngest speakers at a forum, 9-year-old Richard Fisher III, had tears in his eyes as he begged administrators to keep his school open.

“Why do you want to close down our school?” asked Fisher, still clad in his blue and white school uniform. “We learn, play and have fun.”

There’s nothing more to say.

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2 Responses to Half The Schools in Kansas City, MO closing down!

  1. Everett Christy says:

    First, I apologize that this has nothing to do with your post. I was wondering what you do for a living? You say that you are a philosopher but is that what you are on the side? I am curious because, by reading many of your posts, I have discovered that I am quite similar to you and your lifestyle is very appealing. Understanding and searching for truths of whatever you wish. It all seems very free, and at seventeen, the thought of being in one career field for my whole life sounds pointless to me and utterly boring. I cannot decide what I want to pursue because I would like to study and research everything. Please enlighten me as best as you can.
    -Everett

  2. Hi Everett,

    You know, I wish I could earn a living being a philosopher, but really, the only way to earn money doing that is to teach philosophy in a university, and I’m not interested in that at all. Besides, I don’t really view philosophy that way. But why do I call myself a “philosopher”? Well, the word philosopher comes from philo – to love, and sophia, meaning knowledge. So a philosopher is someone who loves knowledge and wisdom. I figured that was the best way to describe myself, hence I’m a “philosopher.”

    If you go and read the old works of philosophers, such as Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, Rene Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, John Locke, George Berkeley, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and others, you’ll see some interesting developments in thought.

    The Greek philosophers think about literally everything. They were the founders of most every subject. They thought about law, ethics, religion, science, the nature of the universe, the limits of human knowledge, logic, mathematics, history… really, everything. Reading the works of philosophers, you find so much there. They were the first ones to talk about psychology and the nature of human passions. They pondered how human thought took place, and what it consisted of. They were curious about animals and if they were conscious. They reflected on art, drama, and story telling, and the laws behind good fiction. In their research in logic, they were the first linguists. They were the first to think out the theory of evolution, only to be later rediscovered by Darwin, though admittedly Darwin’s work is much more precise and better done.

    Plato and Aristotle were the first economists. They wondered about the nature of money and how it got its value. Aristotle felt that large income inequalities planted the seeds for future wars, so he wondered about money and how to run a just economy.

    Most every famous philosopher out there, I’ve read their books. It took me many years, but I slowly started with the Greeks and worked my way to today. I’ve thought about so many things, sometimes my mind is just mush. You learn to see things from just about every angle. When you read those books, in chronological order, like I did, you don’t find a dry, vapid discussion, akin to boring academic encyclopedias. The guys are genuinely thinking about life issues, and looking for answers. That’s what drew me to them.

    But nowadays we’ve learned more. For example, Kant used to think a lot about space and time, and how the mind organized information. Nowadays there’s general relativity and neuroscience, which can teach you a lot more than Kant ever could. Even still, reading Kant will get you thinking about the problems.

    Modern economics texts can teach you more about the nature of money than reading Aristotle. Freud and other depth psychologists can tell you more about the nature of human passions than the Greeks.

    But with me, I read all those old books, and I genuinely began searching for answers, just like they were. I didn’t know the answers to the problems beforehand, considering I STARTED with the old books, so I found myself thinking right along with them. I became obsessed with the problems, and I just had to figure things out.

    To me, there is no subject distinctions. There’s only reality. Einstein figured out how space and time work. Keynes and the Austrian economists learned the nature of the trade cycle. Other economists have tackled income inequality. Freud understood human passions. There’s so much to learn.

    Even if it seems like I’m studying a lot of different subjects, really I’m just continuing on the same debates the old Greek philosophers were having, just looking into what else we’ve found out since then. I’ve seen the progression, one step at a time. I just gravitated from philosophy books to psychology, economics, history, physics, mathematics, and more. But really, all of that was just the next logical step in my studies.

    What do I do for a job? Ugh, I hate working. I despise it. There is no work I enjoy doing. I only enjoy studying and finding things out, and sharing what I learn. I hate how the universities cram you into certain molds, and try to make us into cookie cutter human beings. Like take one field of research I’d like to get into — the nature of the brain and free will. I’d like to figure out how free will, if it exists, can take place in the human brain. It seems to me that within certain areas of our brains, particularly in the neocortex, in select Broddmann areas, I think our “spirit/life force/mind” (whatever you want to call it), can utilize various aspects of quantum physics, and slightly alter the flow of electricity and bio-chemical signals in those select pathways, which gives rise to our ability to control our bodies.

    Is this philosophy? Neuroscience? Psychology? Physics? It’s all of those and more.

    Modern day philosophers are university professors and researchers. They carry on the same torch.

    I can’t guarantee you what will happen once you enroll in the leviathan, which is the university systems. They start cramming you with so much homework, and papers, and stressing you out making you memorize pedantic details, which you’ll only forget six months later, that your own research starts to suffer. As Mark Twain once said, “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.”

    To make matters even worse, as a college student, you find yourself buried in debts, and then you have to work your job to pay them off.

    *Sigh*. I’m sorry I’m not a beacon of optimism, encouraging you on, but really I can’t stand half of it. I think the university system inhibits learning more than it helps it. I’m the guy who studies a subject on his own BEFORE he takes a class, and then politely sits through lectures, staring off in space, waiting for them to end, so I can hurry up and get my credits for the course, and they’ll allow me to do research with their staff (and hopefully pay me!).

    Take learning Calculus for instance.

    The nature of limits and infinity is insanely complex. There is so much to think about. When I studied Calculus, on my own, I got to the fundamental theorem of calculus and remember taking a pause for nearly two months, researching infinity, and thinking about what was going on when I computed an integral. Yes, two months. I can sit and talk with you for hours and hours on how intricate it is. I started reading books on Logic by Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, Cantor, and others. Those thoughts eventually lead me to think about the very idea of a number, negation, and various brain processes that Calculus uses during its operations.

    I remember in high school, when I first took Calculus, the teacher took the area under the x^2 curve using an integral. It’s the sum of an infinite number of rectangles. Simple guys, right? Oh yeah, Mrs. Wilkerson, it’s all so simple. *rolls eyes* Just increase the power by one, and divide by the same power… Crunch your answer. Ok guys, here’s your homework. *Sigh*

    How terrible. No wonder kids hate math. I hated math too.

    Take a course in college, and limits and infinity are just a few pages in the dry math text. The professor briefly skims over it, and then assigns you a bunch of computer-like, mindless homework problems, where you mechanically crunch your night and life away. Turn your homework in a couple days later, then the professor moves on to something else — mostly more mechanical procedures of calculating things. And if you don’t use that stuff literally everyday, you’ll forget it months later.

    With me and math, I can do complex quantum mechanics, and compute crazy integrals and solve differential equations, but I don’t have it all memorized. I have it all written down on cheat sheets here on my desk. I may forget how to do a trigonometric substitution, or various logarithm laws, but that stuff doesn’t matter. That’s pedantic details. Learn how to lay out the problem, and be able to picture what you’re working with and where you’re going in your mind, and then go back and look up all the details into solving the mathematics. And if you use something everyday, then you’ll memorize the equations and relationships you work with everyday.

    But I remember visiting a university, to test out of some courses, and I asked if I could use my cheat sheets. There’s nothing fancy on them. Just stuff like Int(secxtanx) = secx + C. I have little drawings of a trapezoid with the equation A = (1/2)(B+b)h. Tan 2x = (2tanx / 1-tan^2 x). Stuff like that.

    The guy made fun of me. No joke. “If you knew the material, you wouldn’t need those.” Some sadistic bastard with no life, employed as some sort of gatekeeper for the university, to make sure you take their courses, and they get their money. The guy obviously had no life. He also obviously never used anything he learned, or studied on his own, otherwise he would know how easy it is to forget details in all the mathematical equations. The guy was lost in his own fake academic world. Were they testing my memory, or my ability to do mathematics? I really wasn’t sure.

    You know what? I could literally derive those equations from simpler relationships. I may forget details, but I could go back and re-derive everything, if I had to. I understand it all. But sometimes I forget details. Remember those strategies you employ when you Integrate tan^m * sec^n?… Sorry, I don’t use that everyday. I do remember that if one of the powers is even, you do one thing, and if they’re odd, you do another. But sorry! I need to glance at my notes!

    Sometimes university classes get lost in those kinds of petty details, but don’t let your mind get so hampered down in pedantic details that you lose track of the big picture. You don’t have to have the entire 1000 page book of integrals memorized in order to use and understand mathematics.

    So to answer your question, I self teach myself everything. That way I can take all the time I need to fully research everything out. Sometimes that leads to me leaving a particular subject for a while, and going on a tangent pursuit, then coming back later. Sometimes I pause on one area, thinking on it for months, then blow through other areas, just basically skimming.

    Really, the most important things to learn are the “bases”. The foundations of subjects. What do the arguments rest on? What’s the gist of what you’re doing? How does it tie into the bigger picture?

    But to study on your own requires, somehow, that you have some sort of shelter, food, the books, and at least some money to live on. Here’s how I pulled all those things off.

    To earn money I write computer software for companies. I work from wherever, whenever I want. I overstate how long it will take me to develop the project, that way I have lots of free time. I take projects that I can complete as quickly as possible, and earn the maximum amount of money. I want the most bang for my buck, and to spend as little time with it as possible. And then after I make a lot of money off the project, I tuck that money away, and live off it for as long as possible. I live minimally, and keep my expenses down to next to nothing. That way I’m not bothered having to earn money. At least, as little as possible.

    I’ve done other business projects too though. Really, I’ll do anything that makes me money, as long as it doesn’t require too much time.

    To cut down expenses for your books, get as many of them as you can from the internet, in PDF files, or downloaded from torrents. Here’s how I learned Physics, for example. I downloaded a slightly older version of a popular Physics textbook, and I also got the teacher’s guide for it. That way I literally had every answer worked out for me, and I could practice all I wanted. So what you do is just read the text, then work each problem, one by one, and then check your answer in the teacher guide. Works just fine.

    No grades. No stress. No teachers pushing you.

    What pisses me off about universities, and I mean REALLY pisses me off, is that I can’t just go in there and test out. You can test out of the basic courses, but they make you attend the harder courses, even if you could test out of them. They make me take their courses to get the credits. And you can’t skip class either. So many professors love their little pop quizzes, and some even base your grade on participation. Well, whatever. Do what you have to do. Try to be polite to the professor by acting like you’re paying attention, and just bear through it.

    If the classroom is big enough, get an iPod, and download mp3s of the Teaching Company lectures. Sit in the back, slowly slide the earpiece in your ear, and there you go. Listen to a history of World War II, or something else, why the professor gets his thrills writing boring integrals on the chalkboard. Get yourself the mp3 audio version of Friedrich Hayek’s Road To Serfdom, or Ludvig Von Mises book Socialism, and let your mind drift someplace better, to keep yourself sane.

    You can also watch lectures from the top universities online to supplement. MIT offers physics lectures of a lot of their courses. Other universities nowadays are doing the same.

    Some people argue that the route I’m telling you about is too difficult. You need a teacher to explain various problems to you. Nonsense. What you develop is the ability to solve problems on your own, and think for yourself. I’ve had physics problems which I didn’t understand, even after seeing it all worked out in the teacher’s guide. What did I do? Stared at it, and worked other problems. Kept working at it. And you know what? Most of the time, I end up solving the same problem, but using a different approach. I end up getting the same answer.

    You do this with all the subjects. Sometimes there isn’t a copy of the books you want through the internet, so you buy them cheap. Go to Abebooks.com, and type in the book name. Buy a slightly dated version of the text, like the previous edition. Students sell-off their textbooks for dirt, and these stores are all linked together in the abebooks network, so you literally get the $150 textbook for $3.00 plus a few bucks shipping. Also, if it’s an engineering or science book, get the student answer guides as well. They’re almost always available on abebooks as well, for dirt cheap.

    If your parents would allow it, you can work at Burger King for a month or two, then quit, and spend your money on books using this method. You’ll get quite a library for $1600. You can have big thick textbooks on biology, chemistry, calculus, physics, computer programming, psychology, economics, history… everything.

    Then just kick back for six or seven years, and plow away, 10 hours a day, studying. That’s the ultimate education right there. You’ll be able to master a subject every six months, if that’s all you do. You can know nothing about physics, then be an expert within a year. A master within 2. Physics is harder, since there’s just so much. Most other subjects are much easier. Unfortunately lab work will be next to impossible, but you’ll be able to do theoretical physics.

    Using this method, you’ll find out what subjects interest you, and which ones don’t. What stuff is a waste of your time, and what stuff takes you where you want to go. Then later you can enroll in a university, sleep through class, get your degree, and earn big money doing something you know you like.

    Then again, you may end up like me, where even ten years after beginning research, you just don’t want to quit learning! I’m currently reading four economics textbooks, several history books, a differential equations textbook (and working the problems), some Richard Dawkins books, a quantum mechanics text, and… well, that’s it for now.

    Here’s the research method that works best for me. I read one or two chapters a day out of each book. Most of the time you can read a chapter within an hour or less. You’d be surprised really. Reading one or two chapters a day, you can plow through five 1500 page textbook in two months. No kidding. You can read the entire history of mankind, learn biology, chemistry, depth psychology, and the methods of hypnotism, all within two months. Then ready your next lineup for the next two months, and just keep reading.

    Don’t rush anything. If you get to something you don’t understand, stop, and figure it out. Don’t move on until you do. That may require you getting a whole book on that subject alone. Say you’re studying history and then you hear about a major depression coming over the nation. What causes that? What exactly did the Roosevelt’s New Deal entail? If that interests you, then get some books on it. Read all about it. Then when you learn it, then finish that chapter. It’ll be like a giant spotlight was shone on the book. It’ll all make sense to you.

    Also, utilize your library. They will get you any book you can’t afford. Make a list, print it out, and head up there. Hand them that list and say, “Can you get me these books? I’m poor but I need them! Please!” Most cities have budgets allocated for people like that. They’ll have them shipped in from other libraries, or if they can’t do that, they’ll order them brand new for you. Librarians pray that someone actually comes in and uses their facility to do real research, instead of being a poor man’s Blockbuster. Last time I was in my hometown’s library, literally the “videos” section was all movies. Jim Carrey’s – The Mask. I was like, “What the hell is this doing in a library?”

    The brain learns best by consistent exposure. So studying a little of the subject everyday is best.

    Also, take lots of breaks. Read your chapter or two, then take a 30 minute to an hour break. Do something mindless, like watch an episode of Family Guy on DVD or the internet. Then read two more chapters from another book. Then go for a walk outdoors, or play some sports. Come back in, read some more. But make sure to get out of your room and move.

    I think if you do this method, even if just for a year, you’ll have a great idea as to the next step you want to take your life.

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