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Changing the Goal Posts in the Middle Of The Game.

Delaware’s New and Old Goals

Chart Courtesy of Transparent Christina

Black type = the original RTTT Application Goals
Red type = detail required to understand and compare the original goals
Blue type = where we stand now at the end of 2012=2013

From our state application for RTTT funds sent to the White House in January 2010.

A)  Delaware will show results quickly. With Race to the Top help, more than half of Delaware’s students will be proficient or advanced on NAEP, and the achievement gap will  decrease by 50% no later than 2014-15.  (The  2009 baseline achievement gaps for Reading are as follows: white black(20.6); white Hispanic(16.8); Disabilities or not(42.6); English proficiency(36.9); Low Income Gap(19.4); Female/Male Gap(7.9))  As of now 2012-13, we stand at the following:  white/black(23.2); white/Hispanic(19.7); Disabilities of not(48.3); English proficiency (36.6); Low Income Gap(23.8); Female/Male Gap(-). Except for one, all gaps have grown under RTTT, not shrunk.

B)  All students will meet state standards,  graduation rates will rise and more students will enter and be successful in college. Graduation Rates in 2009 (85.3). In 2010 (86.7). In 2011(78.5). In 2012 (80.0). In 2013(tba).  Under RTTT graduation rates have fallen, not risen.

C)  In Delaware, student growth is not one factor among many; instead satisfactory student growth is the minimum requirement for any educator to be rated effective. Student growth is now considered essential to teacher and leader effectiveness. In 2013 the entire state’s scores shifted backwards, causing the entire system to receive a rating of ineffective.  As teachers must be fired for poor performance, expectations are that the Governor and Secretary of Education will fire themselves when their replacements have been fully trained in 5 weeks.

D)  Delaware’s newly-defined regulatory framework for school turnaround gives the State the authority to intervene directly in failing schools and requires schools to demonstrate results by achieving AYP within two years.  The state average was 10 points below this year’s target, and now has to increase by 30% to hit next year’s target.  Perhaps we should give someone the authority to intervene directly with the failing members of the Department of Education to require them to demonstrate results by achieving AYP within two years?

E)  By the 2011-12 school year, Delaware’s reform program will be fully operational, leaving the state education system to concentrate on driving rapid improvement to  achieve the greatest possible gains in student achievement. Since 2011-12 under RTTT our graduation rate have dropped 7.7%. . 

F)   Through this reform, Delaware will achieve the following goals:

• 60% proficient or advanced on NAEP 4th grade math by 2014-15….Although the NAEP scores are not out yet,  on the DCAS near 73% 4th graders were proficient in math 2012-2013

• 55% proficient or advanced on all other NAEP exams by 2014-15 Averages on all exams other than Science (under 50%)  in all grades were over the low bar set at 55%.

• Reduce black-white and Hispanic-white achievement gaps on NAEP by half by 2014-15…Blacks have widened the gap by 2.6; Hispanics have widened the gap by 2.9; disabilities have widened by 5.7; Non English has decreased by a 0.3; Low income increased by 4.4. 

• 100% meets-standard on the State’s math and reading exams by 2013-2014… With one year to go, we are near 70% on both.

• 87% graduation rate by 2013-14, and a 92% graduation rate by 2016-17… With one year to go, we don’t yet have access to this year’s data on our graduation rate. Last year’s rate was 80%, up from 72%.

• 70% college enrollment by 2013-14… Figures not yet available.  In 2011 the 4488 Delaware students who went on to college out of roughly 4 classes of 10,000 each, is 45%.

• 85% college retention rate by 2013-14 (with students earning at least a year of credit within two years of enrollment) Statewide 30 percent of Delaware’s ninth-graders remain in college by their second year,

G)  Require that teachers and leaders demonstrate satisfactory levels of student growth in order to receive an “effective” rating, and more than a year of student growth to receive a “highly effective” rating.  If the test is being used to rate teachers then we have catastrophic failure.  State average fell from 73 down to 70.  Target goal was 82. 

H)  Differentiating professional development, promotion, advancement, retention, and removal based on performance:  Either this won’t happen, or over 90% of our teachers will be fired.  As well as this year’s scores show how the merit system of bonuses would be a huge negative influence instead of a positive one.  Oh sorry, you don’t get a bonus for all your effort; test says you did poorly. This just shows Christina District was right all along.

I)  Improving and expanding effective preparation and certification programs. We did and with over 95% of our teachers rated as highly qualified, so far scores have trended backwards.  

J)  Linking tenure protections to performance: The State will seek new legislation requiring that teachers demonstrate student growth to qualify for tenure protections.  Embedded in SB 51

K)  Curricula in classrooms will match new career- and college-readiness standards, following centralized training:  Common Core

L)  Invest broadly in high-need schools, particularly by recruiting, training and retaining highly-effective teachers and leaders.  These schools received cut backs, and were not invested heavily. 

M) Turn around persistently lowest-achieving schools using a collaborative intervention approach supported by a strong regulatory framework.  Pencader?  Moyer(36)?  Reach(29)? Where is the DOE? 

N) Establish a rubric to rate teacher’s performances.

Rubric for testing teachers performance….  (here is the one used in New York as an example…

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This story bears repeating.  I first became aware of Common Core by being shown a text assignment to a student.  It was inane.  When I asked at the beginning of the year what literature they would be studying, the room I was in was told by the instructor that there was no literature in the curriculum.  Now it is time to finish the rest of this story.  This student you may remember was brilliant in his non Common Core English class the previous year (2011-2012).  This year he squeaked through with a C- though his DCAS scores were all in the high end. The other courses’ grades were consistent across both years.  There appears to be a problem with Common Core.

In the past I have described Common Core as a sausage.  If made with the right ingredients it can be great.  My post right below this one shows how.  But the problem with Common Core as with a sausage, is that until one cooks and eats it, one does not know what is inside.  its insides are not shown to the public before it gets sold.  If it is shredded beef, it is a good sausage.  If it is cooked pork, it is a good sausage,  It could be Grade A chicken, turkey, or lamb; no one knows until it is cooked and eaten.  But what if it is poop?  Simply poop scooped up from the floor of a poultry farm, stuffed into an intestinal casing, tied at both ends, and looking like any sausage, it gets picked, cooked, cut into, and eaten.

Earlier this spring we had a blogger’s frenzy here in Delaware as we tried to determine what exactly was in Common Core.  We finally found the standards and for the most part, thought they were ok.  We deduced that the problem lies somewhere with the meat processors who are creating this educational sausage without any oversight or accountability.  They’ve figured how to make money, and students/parents were being cheated in the process..

So then, the biggest problem with Common Core is that it is run as a business, not just any business but as a monopoly.  There is no competition between opposing curriculums so one must take whatever one is given.  Llike any monopoly, this business isn’t worried about keeping the customer; it is worried about its bottom line.

The second largest problem is that Common Core program completely ignores the fact that outside influences, particularly poverty, impact education.  It waves a magic wand in its calculations and then proceeds to ignore that students who have a huge issue just trying to survive that day, can’t do well in school.

So, here are the issues:

A) Common Core stifles innovation.  School becomes boring and learning takes a back seat to all other activities.

B) Common Core and Standardized tests go hand and hand.  Test at the beginning and at the end.  The accountability piece attached, means the tests must be passed; the stakes are very high.  Therefore teaching to the test is what we shall get.  Students won’t know how to solve life’s problems unless it is on a standardized test.

C) There is no public input into Common Core.  It if is bad, too bad.  All students will digest it anyway.  No school board, no General Assembly oversight, nothing.  It comes straight from the developer to your child.

D) The standards are too low.  In and effort to narrow the achievement gap, the levels of knowledge are dumbed down so all students will have the same low basic level of knowledge.  No more will the affluent white schools outperform inner city problematic ones. We will teach the exact same to both; they won’t be taught any differently..  The Core material is the same for all schools; students at  both will easily pass it.  There are no higher state standards anymore, simply because if there were, the achievement gap would continue to grow, not shrink.  We are closing the achievement gap primarily by bringing the top end down, not the bottom end up.

E) The repetitive standardized  tests will tell a lot about one’s child.  Especially over time.  Common Core is collecting data on every child, which can then be sold to highly interested Corporate advertisers.  It tracks every child after leaving school across their entire work-path through out their career.

F)  Common Core has a super high price tag. $16 billion over 7 years. One has to buy copyrighted lessons from a supplier because they go hand in hand with the questions on the final test.   All those packets and  that software isn’t cheap.  Of course, data miners and data transcribers have to be hired to read and explain the data to teachers, principals, and administrators.  The money could be spent elsewhere in the school and perhaps to more good.

G)  Common Core by making everyone study the same thing at the same time means that no one will know anything else outside the Common Core agenda; the national data base is narrowed.  Under the current somewhat haphazard individualized approach we had up to now, people matriculated to that area in which they were most interested.  Later when an employer puts people on a team, over the width of the group there is a diversity of opinion upon which to draw for the best solution.  But when everyone knows exactly the same thing, has the exact same shared experience, there could be trouble.  If you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got.

H)  Common Core is being figured out on the fly.  Legislatures signed on before knowing any details.

I)  Common Core Standards were not created by the states.  They actually supplement the state standards previously in place.  No, Common Core Standards were developed by corporations in Washington DC, with the lavish funding by the Gates, Broad, and Walmart foundations.  These standards they created are not intended to develop doctors, lawyers or  teachers, but to develop first year entry level workers for corporations.

J)  Common Core standards are designed not to prepare students for entrance into a four year college or university, but for two year programs or four year programs in a community college.  In that sense they are much lower than almost all of  those  state standards which they are replacing.

K) Common Core  in that it is being forced by the US Department of Education onto the states through strings attached to basic funding, violates the Federal Statute prohibiting the Fed’s direction, supervision, or control of curriculum.

L)  Common Core Standards are not developed by anyone remotely accountable to parents. They are copyrighted standards owned by large educational corporations, completely unaccountable to either legislators, governors, school boards, teachers, parents , or students.

M)  Common Core is like a virus that implodes one cell, then scatters replicates to attack and implode other cells.  With Delaware’s passage of SB 51, Common Core standards will now begins watering down our great teaching schools within the University of Delaware, Delaware State, and Wilmington University.  As it does with the curriculum in public schools, it will be substituting weaker Common Core Standards for more stringent state standards involved especially when it comes to teaching teachers how to teach.

N)  There are thirteen issues above that need addressed.  Yet this faulty program is being used to fire teachers who are only arbitrarily accountable to test results based on this faulty program..  Even good teachers in poor income school districts will lose their jobs, as factors outside the school such as that area’s poverty, pulls down student scores below the acceptable level, and those teachers must suffer the consequences.  Impoverished schools will become closed for the same reason; test scores were too low.  High stakes testing is for  high stakes. Yet there are so many multiple factors impacting those test scores out of everyone’s control. For every teacher, every new school year is metaphorically like charging across the fields of Gettysburg inside of  Pickets Charge; you just hope in all that mass madness, a bullet or cannonade’s  grapeshot does not find you. Your fate is completely out of your control.   Common Core has begun and will continue to cost us many great teachers who up to now had turned many young children into upstanding citizens.

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Done.  Notice there is no agenda 21 listed.  That is an issue which lies in a different arena ( a political one) and is not part or this issue which is how this poop gets dressed up as a sausage.  Both Jack Markell and Educational Secretary of Arne Duncun have recently tried to deride each and everyone of  those against Common Core, as being kooks fearful of Agenda 21 and perhaps even SPECTRE.

I think this short list illistrates there are serious problems with Common Core.  In fact, this problem is so serious that recently Michigan, Pennsylvania, Utah, Alabama, Indiana, Missouri, Georgia, South Dakota, and Kansas have passed or tried to pass legislative bills controlling or stopping the impact of Common Core upon its students. None of their reasons came from what Arne Duncun or Jack Markell dismissively alluded.  They come from the very real concerns mentioned above…  Parents of children bring home Common Core materials, are leading the Common Core pushback.

Bottom line: as illustrated here in Delaware with the student whose example leads off this post, Common Core is bad for students.  They can’t succeed living on just poop…. stuffed into an intestinal casing, simply because it gets  stamped in black food ink, “Common Core; Quality Grade A”

This piece is fluff.  I will be doing another shortly on the shortcomings.  Obviously this was the easier piece and therefore, being a normal human being, I chose to do the laziest piece first. Yawn, it’s summer.

I really did not know what Common Core was when I was first told of it’s inception and that it would be used on our children. Like the names of each of the educational programs that have gone before, I assumed it had its benefits, its drawbacks, and a lot of stuff that was debatable in the middle, but I also assumed it would make little difference either way in the long run.

I was wrong.  It actually employed many of the planks I had been arguing in the past decade, and therefore in a round-about way, I feel I have something at stake in its success.  Because it’s ideals are mine too.  Absolutely.

Common Core believes there is a basic standards everyone should know.  People are different but there are some things that need to be known and understood by everyone to function in today’s society. For example, everyone should know how to read; how to write, and how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Particularly in that last category; there are horror stories we can all tell of being the victim of a server, cashier, or clerk who seemed to miss one of those major building blocks.

Second, since public education is for the public, it should be relatively equal for all.  The same grade of instruction should occur in the Southside and Northeast of Wilmington as it does at Indian River, Newark, or Dover.  Income, race, or other influences should not be part of deciding who or whom, should or should not,  get a good education.   One never knows where the next genius will come from.  Education must be equal for all.

Third, is the realization that all students are not college material.  There is an IQ level of 100.  Half of the population is born above it; half is born below it.  Those events are beyond our control having been decided before birth.   Our only option is to decide what we are going to do, with what we have been given.  Nothing says those below 100 can’t meet the standards of those above; they just need more options required to do so.  As a society, we have chosen to invest those options, fully knowing that when the floor of the elevator rises all those above it rise also.   Since we are teaching for all, it makes sense that those who are gifted above the 100 IQ mark, should also get the best education they can possibly get to match their ability. This means instead of more repetition, they need more opportunity. Teaching these two together requires two exact opposite approaches at exactly the same time.

Therefore, tests should be required, exit tests, which show a person is ready to go into the next grade.  That way the lessons made based on a student’s level, not their age.  Students brains do not develop by age.  They develop when their genetic code turns them on or off. Putting a student who can’t carry over numbers when they add, into a class which will be doing triple digit multiplication, will create problems for a lot of people. Therefore we need to test at the end of every school session, to insure the student is ready to advance.

Which means it now makes good sense to also test at the beginning of each session.  From these we could determine what a student knows coming in, and compare that later with what they know going out.  Did that student learn?  If so, by how much?  This is and should become the guide on how we all will base all ratings.  We will compare thusly:  “This state’s school system provides more bang for their dollar; this school district provides more bang for their dollar;   this school provides more bang for their dollar, this teacher provides more bang for the dollar, this student provides more bang for their dollar and needs more opportunity to grow.

So in this ideal world, we have every student, no matter with what IQ they were born with, being challenged to meet the next step of their ladder, no matter at what the height it may be.  We have a tracking system that follows each student, so future teachers can know in advance what works and what doesn’t with each child. We have all students proudly meeting their goals at the end of each school year, eager to do it again the next year.

In other words, we create children excited to learn, confident in their abilities, ready to meet the next challenge.  And the same thing happens across all America, East, West, North, South, rich, poor, English speaking, non English speaking, or what ever.

The Core of knowledge is common among all.

Rule Number 1:  Anyone can make up anything about anything……..

So when the Markell administration through the mouthpiece of Mark Murphy says the RTTT funds were federally mandated to be used to pay $20,000 bonuses and then turns around and gives it to Charter Schools to use however, one must be skeptical.

This is 2013 and none of us were born yesterday.  But, back sometime in our past, when we were born, … there was an argument that public schools were falling apart and that only by having a charter school take over an existing public school system, could any improvement be made…

Recently the Delaware Legislature passed a bill regarding teacher training. (SB 51)… So with the movement of money away from teachers in the traditional public school system of Christina, over to the pockets of those endorsing Charter Schools, I became curious how the education of teachers between the public sector and the private sector stacked up…

After all, wouldn’t you be curious too?

Of course you are.

If one travels to the Delaware State Educational website and looks at schools, one sees a wealth of information…  One can choose a district and see how it stacks up, (unless that district is the Charter School classification and for purposes of obfuscation, they are all off-line).. From there, one can choose an individual school.  Once on the page, one can click either of three tabs. One describes the school overall and with this, one can make easy comparisons.  Two describes the teachers; one can readily compare. And three is for the student achievement (or fail) reports….

It is rather simple.

Which makes it confusing as to why various Senators and Representatives who purport in public to be on top of education, were so easily bamboozled and lulled into voting for a bill that destroys Delaware’s institutions of higher learning… (SB 51)

It also pokes very big holes into the lie that Charter Schools are better for students than the alternative.

I want to show you Christina and how that stacks up against Charter Schools….

Christina School District is the states largest… 52% of its teachers have masters, 47% have a bachelors, and 1% has their doctorate...  The number of teachers it has, who are highly qualified to teach Reading/ Language Arts, is at the 100% mark… The number of teachers it has who are highly qualified to teach Mathematics, is also 100%..

In fact all its teachers except in English which is 99.5% highly qualified, and Social Studies which are 98.1% qualified, are at 100% highly qualified. SB 51 was designed to make our teachers all highly qualified but it looks like Christina is already there…

So, there is reason that the Board wanted to give smaller bonuses to all teachers instead of arbitrarily giving it to one or two who by luck of their student draw, got the highest score. All its teachers deserve to bonus. Not one.

Now, let us compare that to a charter. We will pick one… Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security. This is a charter under the direction of one Charlie Copeland, heard of him? This school has 192 students, zero of them on low income. It has only 17 teachers. It averages close to the magic number; it has 12 students for each teacher. 23% of its teachers have a masters or above. It’s number of highly qualified teachers in English are 0%. It’s math is at 100%. So 100% of its students are being taught English by a teacher who is not “highly” qualified.

So let us jump to Newark Charter School. This is one that is always tooted by Charter School enthusiasts to promote their cause. It is the best of the best of the best. Yet the best of the best of the best falls behind Christina School District, considered by Murphy and his friend Jea Street, as the worst of the worst of the worst, with only a 91.3% highly qualified teaching staff in Reading and Language Arts, and only a 95.2% highly qualified staff in Mathematics.

The best of the best of the best is worse than the worst of the worst of the worst….

There is something really funny going on, when the official line from the Markell, Rodel staffed Department of Education is saying stuff being picked up by the News Journal and front paged… that its very own website contradicts!

So we take away $2.3 million from the Christina District that has students under 100% highly qualified teachers even in the poorest sections of town, a gigantic district where 61.7% of children come from low income homes, and give $2.3 million to Charters, representing 7.9% of Delaware’s students, who have do not have 100% highly qualified teachers and who have either a zero or 1/5 the percentage of low income household students that the Christina District forebears….

And we call that progress from the governor who wants to be known as the “Educational Governor.” ???

The fix is easy. Pay for charter schools by increasing the top tax rate to cover what charters need. Let Traditional Public Funds stay in traditional Public Schools. As Steve Newton pointed out which you all read, such was in the original RODEL Charter put together “back in the day.”…

If it was so good then, what’s wrong with it now? Let’s just do it and fix this education thing once and for all! Raise the income tax on the top marginal rate to cover the state’s cost of all charters.

Before anyone gets bent up over the Christina School board turning down the fight to keep $2.3 million, there is something you should know.

This money was strictly tied to starting a habit for which there would be no money next year…If the board accepted the money, at the end of funding which is this year, the board would have to pay for this extra little thing we have to do just to get our state RTTT funding.

It would be like taking up heroin because it was free.  Then you got to pay for it after you are addicted.

The Board of Education made a shrewed and very smart business decision. Many who do not have a clue will yell at the headlines.  However those of us who appreciate the power of money, who understand money, who know that money works on rules of its own and is not subject to the whims of popular opinion, KNOW this was a very smart choice.  

One that clearly was the right thing to do, even though emotionally it may be hard to bear because after all it was the right decision and not the “easy” one.

There may be criticism for awhile, but by next year, when every other district is debating whether to cut this  RTTT program or fund it with another referendum,  the Christina School District will be focusing on education… as it should…

I for one, am always glad when someone, anyone, is clear headed and makes a tough decision based on what is right.;;;

Now lets see who’s stupid and self serving as they line up to criticize the board for turning this down, and who will say…”Oh, this is a stupid decision..  Who passes up free heroin!” ..

Mr. Street:  The floor is yours.  The line starts here. 

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As per Kilroy… “Pandora was the Mike Tyson of parents”

Courtesy of  Top Hits of The Seventies


Right click to open full image… Pictograph Courtesy of Viral..

So, can someone tell me again, why we shouldn’t tax the rich, and instead, balance the budget on the backs of everyone else?…….

I seem to be missing that little detail where that all makes sense……

Down, Down,
Yellow, and brown.
The scores fall.
All over the town…

That’s adapted from a children’s book; originally it was a bedtime poem about falling leaves…

i want to share a story. A young lady i met near the end of this week, was excited her session of Summer School had ended… This is a bright person, I was surprised to hear she was in Summer School; (isn’t that remedial?)

So I asked, (to be polite), “how did you do?”

She said, ” I got a hundred on my final; That is the whole grade…”

“What?” I queried. “What was the course?”…

“Algebra” she said…

“You went to summer school, and got a hundred in Algebra? What kind of grades did you get all year?”

“Oh”, she said. “I flunked it. I had to take this course to go onto high school next year…..”

“Oh, wow. Say, I’m kinda involved with educational issues, and I’m really curious now.” I spoke quickly. “How was it that you learned something in what, four weeks, from June 19th to now: that you couldn’t learn in class, .. the whole school year?”

She flashed a smile, like “yeah, crazy, huh” and thought for a second, and said… “They just explained it better… it’s actually really easy.”

“They couldn’t explain it in regular school? Not even a whole year? ”

“No, they were like reading out of the book, and when we’d ask questions, they’d say the book didn’t make sense to them either, but it was what they had to teach from and they were sorry, but they didn’t know the answer themselves. They wouldn’t show us anything…”

“So, how did you like learn it all in summer school?”

Again the smile. “Well, like finding the slope, In my old class, I had no idea what the teacher was talking about with the change or x over the change of y… here they just said take this side and that side, and bingo, you have the slope.” It was so easy…

Well I thanked her for sharing and congratulated her on her achievement… I wished her best in another school year too…

Hmmmm. So why is it.. that Delaware pays for a whole year of school, when it can be boiled down and taught in 17 days? The whole course of algebra… boiled down to 17 days….

What are we doing wrong, that we willingly “lose someone” capable who can learn algebra in 17 days, and hold them back another year, because they couldn’t pass a core course? It doesn’t look like the problem is with her: it appears the problem lies in us!

All it took … was for someone to take the time to explain it to her…. That was all it took….

Ladies and Gentlemen: that is how we’re going to win this race … the one…to the top. .. …

Rigrodsky & Long, P.A. Investigates Sale of “Nobel Learning Communities”, Inc. to Leeds Equity Partners…

Rigrodsky & Long, P.A., with offices in Wilmington, Delaware and Garden City, New York, regularly litigates securities class, derivative and direct actions, shareholder rights litigation and corporate governance litigation, including claims for breach of fiduciary duty and proxy violations in the Delaware Court of Chancery and in state and federal courts throughout the United States.

The investigation concerns whether Nobel Learning’s board of directors failed to adequately shop the Company and obtain the best price possible for Nobel Learning’s shareholders before entering into the agreement with Leeds Equity Partners….

Leeds is a “for profit” group that currently includes companies that dispense commercial property management software, that are a designer and manufacturer of furniture for the educational, hospitality and healthcare industries, and that are a educational temporary agency to supply unfilled educational positions….

Of course, the bigger question behind this, is whether the mechanization behind what is truly at stake when Delaware moves towards allowing corporate interests to control all aspects of our children’s education… IS TRULY WHAT IS BEST FOR OUR CHILDREN…

Kilroy’s Delaware is quick to point out connections between Markell’s Race to the Top and Wall Street. Here is one, and another, and another, all recently posted….

But what no one has addressed is where the equitization of public education is leading us…

The big question is this: who has more accountability towards the education of our children? Ourselves through our government? Or companies bought and sold for $11.75 dollars a share in cash…. ?

I think the answer is this: whereas innovation can be found in upstart companies seeking to compete in a new market, overall, .. the long term management of education is best left to the long term institutions who by their nature endowed with a long term view…

A healthy combination of both, are the guiding stars we need to use to steer our ship…

The answer is so obvious, it is almost comical that everyone twists, turns, bends over backwards and tries so hard, not to see it… Bottom line, if the system is financially broke, the simple solution is to tax the wealthy a tiny bit more, and fix what is broken; not pay those working way too hard already, …even less… 😦