The Orange County Classical Academy Will Transform Education in California

In barely one month, 360 elementary school students will begin attending a new charter school that offers a dramatic departure from the failed public education model in California. The Orange County Classical Academy (OCCA) will open its doors to kindergarten through 5th grade students, and apart from the student demographics, nothing about this school fits the conventional mode.

Despite being one of the most encouraging developments in California’s public education in, say, the last 50 years, it is a sad testament to the times we live in that what OCCA is doing is considered revolutionary. Here is a brief summary of how OCCA differs from literally every traditional public elementary school in California:

First of all, they are scrapping the Common Core approach to teaching English and math, and they are making the sex education curriculum “non-pornographic, age appropriate, and medically accurate.” Since Common Core and the recently revised state sex education guidelines have been unpopular with parents and are of dubious value if not actually harmful to students, these are both big changes. Moreover, the sex education curricula being used at OCCA will be made transparent to parents and will facilitate a simple opt out should parents desire that for their children.

Second, OCCA is a licensed operator to use the K-12 curriculum developed by Hillsdale College. Currently there are 20 charter schools in ten U.S. states that already use the Hillsdale model, which is patterned according to their approach to college education. This format […] Read More

The Russia Card

America was at a historic crossroads in 1971. The war in Vietnam was increasingly seen as unwinnable, while triggering ongoing unrest in cities and college campuses across the nation. The economy was challenged with rising inflation and rising trade deficits. In August 1971, the British ambassador turned up at the Treasury Department to request that $3 billion be converted into gold. That same week, President Nixon ordered a freeze on all prices and wages in the U.S.

In the communist world, America’s problems were trumpeted as the inevitable collapse of capitalist imperialism. Russia and China stood triumphant over a declining West. And what did Nixon do? He stunned the world by traveling to China. His goal, to drive a wedge between the two communist superpowers.

Historians can speculate endlessly over what might have happened if Nixon had never played the China card. But his strategy, to keep China and Russia from getting too close, has more applicability today than it did nearly fifty years ago.

Today Russia and China continue an alliance that has fitfully endured through the decades. In recent years, especially since oil prices have fallen, Russia has supplied China with raw materials and high technology in exchange for desperately needed cash. Even now, China is only beginning to acquire sufficient skill to manufacture high performance jet engines for its military, and still has to rely on Russian aerospace manufacturers to fill the gap.

That China and Russia are both undemocratic nations that […] Read More

COVID-19 Did NOT “Cure Pneumonia”

When it comes to memes, “COVID-19 Cured Pneumonia” is a good one. Its obvious implausibility immediately directs the reader to consider the underlying allegation, which is that pneumonia deaths are being deliberately understated in order for the CDC to reclassify them as COVD-19 deaths, thus fanning public panic.

When there’s a meme, there’s an image, and to support the phrase “COVID-19 Cured Pneumonia,” there is a graphic representation of CDC data that appears to show a precipitous drop in pneumonia cases at precisely the time when COVID-19 cases were precipitously rising.

Depicted below is the graph behind the assertion that “COVID-19 Cured Pneumonia.” On the surface, it’s awfully convincing. It references an official government source – https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/weeklyarchives2019-2020/data/NCHSData12.csv – and the data on the downloadable Excel spreadsheet is faithfully rendered in the graph. And wow, compared to the previous six years, this year far fewer people are dying from pneumonia.

The problem with this graph, and the accompanying meme, is that, as the CDC discloses on their Daily Updates of Totals by Week and State, “it can take several weeks for death records to be submitted to National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), processed, coded, and tabulated.” The first chart used data as reported to the CDC through March 25. The next chart, below, uses data gathered for an additional three months, through June 24. The differences are striking.

As can be seen, what appears to have happened around week 10 of 2020, in mid-March, […] Read More

Big Tech’s Escalating War on Free Speech

On June 19 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld 9-0 the right to freedom of speech, even so-called “hate speech.” From Justice Alito: “the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express the thought that we hate.” And from Justice Kennedy, “A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all.”

Tell that to the big tech. Because for them, “hate speech” is any point of view that is in opposition to the political agenda favored by the people who run the big tech companies, and control the platforms that have become the 21st Century version of a public square.

While this is an ongoing story, it is important to understand the theme. It is not “big tech platforms censor conservative and nationalist speech by defining it as “hate speech.” Rather the theme is more accurately and ominously characterized as “big tech platforms are continuously widening the criteria for what sorts of conservative and nationalist content are defined as hate speech.”

The first big wave of censorship was back in 2017 when websites offering full-blown neo-Nazi content, such as the notorious “Daily Stormer,” were deplatformed. Nobody wanted to defend the right of these content creators to go on publishing, even though on principle, they still should have had “the freedom to express the thought that we hate.”

The next wave of deplatforming took place […] Read More

Firefighting in Orange County – Part Three, Placentia’s War for Independence

On July 1, 2020, the City of Placentia’s new Fire and Life Safety Department commenced operations. As documented in the two previous installments of this report, this new and independent department replaced the more expensive services (part one) that had been provided by the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA), and the savings to the small city (part two) are estimated to be over $2.0 million per year.

How Placentia declared independence from OCFA cannot be described by merely summarizing the process followed by the local elected officials, although that is an essential part of the story. The full accounting of their experience has to include their interactions with one of the most powerful public sector unions in Southern California, Local 3631, the union representing the firefighters of OCFA.

During interviews with local elected officials in Placentia and neighboring cities, city employees, and consultants involved in the effort to create the new department, the power of Local 3631 came up repeatedly. How this union used its influence is a story that cannot be ignored in any accurate account of what it took for Placentia to break free of OCFA.

The Timeline to Independence

Back in 2016, faced with a structural budget deficit that had defied previous attempts to remedy, Placentia’s city council formed a “citizens fiscal sustainability task force.” The goal of this committee was to come up with suggestions to make the city financially sustainable over the next few decades. They came back with a handful of […] Read More

Why A Newsom Recall Can Succeed

There isn’t a political professional to be found in California who believes that the current attempt to recall Gavin Newsom will succeed. With petitions approved for circulation and a deadline of November 17, recall campaign volunteers are trying to defy the momentum of history.

To recall a sitting governor in California today, based on the voter turnout in the November 2018 state election, proponents will have to turn in 2.0 million signed petitions in order to yield, after verification of signatures, addresses, registration status, eliminating duplicates, etc., a net total of 1,495,709 validated petitions. Without millions to pay professional signature gatherers, this is considered impossible.

It’s not impossible. Not with the power of the internet and social media. Skeptics must consider only two factors: Are there more than 2.0 million California voters who would sign a recall petition? The answer to that is undoubtedly yes. The second question is more to the point: Can the recall campaign find 2.0 million voters in California willing and able to sign a recall petition?

To this second question, the professionals would have an immediate and unequivocal answer. No. But they are mistaken. In today’s fraught political environment, in this season of heightened political awareness, in this era of internet access, Gavin Newsom is one viral video away from seeing his name on a recall ballot, in a special election to be held in early 2021.

Newsom, to his credit, is taking the Recall Gavin 2020 campaign more seriously than the thousands […] Read More

None Dare Call It Conspiracy

Does anyone still believe what they read in the New York Times or watch on any major television network news broadcast? Because for millions of Americans, their credibility is at an all time low. The internet hive mind, even in the face of blatant censorship by search and social media monopolies, simply offers too many verifiable, alternative facts for establishment media to get away with lying, but they still do. Exposed, discredited, they keep on lying, relying on an exhausted populace to simply not bother to fact check every single thing they report.

Writing for the American Conservative, Arthur Bloom recently published a critique of American media with the not-so-subtle title “They Really Are Lying to You.” His opening sentence: “The most effective kind of propaganda is by omission.”

Bloom’s probably right, especially when one considers how much mainstream reportage was obsessed, for years, on what ultimately were non-stories – think “Russian collusion,” “Ukrainian impeachment,” or overblown stories, think “8 million COVID deaths in the U.S. by this time next year,” and now, “the nation reeling under an epidemic of systemic racism” that suddenly, so very suddenly, has been an urgent crisis for, well, forever.

What will be next week’s crisis of the century? And what is really going on behind these blinding lunges from one overwhelming and orchestrated media fixation to the next? What events of greater consequence are being obscured, ignored, omitted?

Media Making News

It doesn’t take a sleuth to watch ABC’s news anchor David Muir […] Read More

Auditions for California Governor Are Officially Open

With little fanfare, the third attempt to recall Governor Newsom got underway on June 10th. Proponents have until November 17th to gather 2.0 million signed petitions, in order for 1.4 million of them to withstand verification and qualify the recall for a special election in early 2021.

There isn’t a seasoned political professional anywhere who takes this effort seriously, because without millions of dollars to pay signature gatherers, state ballot initiatives never qualify. But this season could be different.

Skeptics should consider just two questions: Are there more than 2.0 million California voters who would sign a recall petition, and if so, can the recall campaign find 2.0 million voters in California willing and able to sign a recall petition?

The answer to the first question is undoubtedly yes. There aren’t just 2.0 million California voters willing to sign a recall petition, there are at least twice that many. So why can’t they be found? To this, the answer is unequivocal. They can. And it doesn’t require millions of dollars any more. It requires a grassroots army, a technology platform to facilitate signature gathering, and publicity. And the grassroots army is already formed.

Behind this latest effort to recall Newsom there is an organization with tens of thousands of volunteer activists spread all over the state, with most of them already trained from the earlier recall efforts. The lead proponent, Orrin Heatlie, is a retired police sergeant who has, with extraordinary determination, built a good management team around him and […] Read More

Firefighting in Orange County – Part Two, Building An Independent Fire Dept

On July 1 the City of Placentia will begin to operate a fire department independent of the Orange County Fire Authority. The motivation for the Placentia’s City Council to take this step was to provide equal or greater service at a lower cost. In this report, those cost savings will be summarized. The figures cited in this report were gathered using 2018 payroll data provided to the state controller, budget documents available from the City of Placentia, as well as via numerous conversations with local elected officials, city staff, and outside consultants familiar with the project.

Providing these estimated savings in a format detailed enough to be useful, yet brief enough to be readily absorbed by policymakers and interested observers, required use of assumptions and projections which are open to interpretation. This is freely acknowledged, and readers are invited to offer alternative interpretations as well as any information that may have been incorrect or overlooked. Taking all of that into account, however, it appears clear that Placentia will save significantly over the next several years by forming an independent fire department.

The first step in understanding how much Placentia will save is to consider what Placentia was paying to the Orange County Fire Authority in the most recent fiscal year which ends this June 30. In the first chart, below, these costs are estimated. The first set of rows shows the average annual pay in 2018, by category of pay, for OCFA’s four primary operating positions. How these pay averages […] Read More

All Livelihoods Matter

When examining the challenges facing the black community in America, the conservative response – if they have any courage at all, that is – is to attack the policies that Democrats have implemented supposedly to help blacks. This is a valid response, which can be summarized as follows:

Increased spending in public schools is futile because Democrats have taken away the ability to discipline disruptive students, and the teachers union has monopolized public education. For example, instead of being fired, thanks to these unions, bad teachers end up teaching in low income communities. Public education is a disaster in black communities.

Welfare spending has taken away the necessity for households to have a male breadwinner, and hence, a male role model and authority figure. This has disproportionately impacted black families because a higher percentage of them collect welfare and other entitlements. Two thirds of black children are growing up in single parent households.

There are other reasons conservatives may cite, centering around the theme of personal and community accountability. Why aren’t more black conservatives stepping up and demanding school choice, family values, and a collective rejection of gang culture? And why isn’t the media elevating those black conservatives who do speak out, instead of pointing the cameras at the same old Sharptonesque hacks, year after year?

These responses explain a lot, and deserve to be heard, but there’s another factor at work affecting black lives in America, and it’s also mostly the fault of Democrats.

The […] Read More