Stanstamper’s Blog

March 14, 2011

Are we losing the education war?

Filed under: Uncategorized — stanstamper @ 8:35 pm
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As a society, we have a lot of tough issues to face, from the stability of our government to how we determine what needs to be funded, at the expense of things that we cannot afford.
Since education comprises the largest single expense item in the state’s budget, it goes without saying that we must constantly evaluate not only how we are doing, but strive to get the best return on each dollar invested.
I take a much harsher approach to funding education than most. I don’t think we’re winning the education battle. I think we’re losing. That’s not to say that we don’t have a lot of great teachers who are doing a wonderful job. Nor is it to say that we don’t have a lot of very sharp and bright students.
It seems to me that we have to approach education as a war—a war that we must win, because children who don’t acquire a basic education, are doomed. I think too many kids are falling through the cracks, and with government money becoming more precious down the road, how will society deal with these education casualties, not to mention the harsh real-world realities that educational failures will be forced to endure?
I actually think “as a group” Hugo and Choctaw County teachers are doing a tremendous job, given the demographics of the area.
It seems to me that instead of throwing so much money at education, we need to focus more on parenting. We need to raise the “expectation” in many youth—that we “expect” them to do better.
If you will take time to read the story to the right of this column by State Superintendent Barresi, you’ll get a better understanding of what an educational mountain we have to climb.
All over this country, parents and taxpayers are telling their legislators they want to see “education reform.” How that reform is defined, of course, is the sixty-four thousand dollar question.
I don’t have all the answers, but better parenting is badly needed. Smarter minds than me need to put together some kind of “parenting curriculum” or counseling for parents who have “at risk” children.
I know there are at least a few such programs in place (parents as teachers, etc.), but more must be done.
When parents don’t care about their children, there’s certainly a diminished likelihood that the child will do well at school.
Nationally, many parents, who realize the importance of a good education, are revolting against the public school system, which they don’t believe is providing the best possible education for their children.
These parents have demanded vouchers, so they can take their children and their tax dollars to the school of their choice…where they think they can obtain a better education.
How can you blame a parent for this, and what is the long-term result for public education when the sharpest and brightest students leave?
See why I think this is a war?
I can’t help but believe that “more structure” is going to be required to save our education system. Along with more structure, is more order, more discipline and more “expectation” for achievement.
I don’t think it makes sense to force a child to take biology if they can’t multiply seven times six. We are graduating kids that can’t read a ruler or figure 10% off the price of goods.
These matters will continue to loom as the greatest challenges of our society. I pray that more Americans understand the consequences of continuing “business as usual” when it comes to losing the war that counts our children as victims.


February 2, 2009

If I Were President…

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 10:39 pm
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Pardon my vanity on the matter, but I sure wish I could be President for a month.  Perhaps even a top Presidential advisor.

It appears that our new President has spent enough time inside the Beltway to have already contracted “Potomac Fever.” There are a number of cures, but the easiest is to live in the State of Oklahoma for a year. (Our laws require a balanced budget.) Of course all but the newest members of Congress have a heavy case of same. (Oklahoma Senators Jim Inhofe and Dr. Tom Coburn have a substantial immunity to this political disease.)

Were I to have such a wonderful opportunity, I would send a memo to Congress that any bill containing a single state earmark would be vetoed.  Then I would call leaders of both parties together and place on the table before them, 500 red chips. Each chip represents one billion dollars.

To the Democratic leader, I would count out 270 chips and to the Republicans, 230, to follow the way the American voters cast their ballots in November.  I would ask that they return in two weeks, with one or more of their chips attached to documents which represented a program to improve the American economy and the quality of life for all Americans.

If I, as President, had no substantial opposition to the proposal, I would agree to it. If they couldn’t convince me and my advisors it was an appropriate expenditure, I would give them a week to modify it or bring another program in its place, else they forfeit those funds to the other party, or altogether.

The entire process would have full transparency.  

Should such a final measure pass, I would give both parties ample time to recuperate from the act of having worked together. 

I would revel in the resurgence of the American Stock Market and other markets of the world, and in the resurrection of the American spirit.

Having only a few days left in my limited month of service before I, too, succumbed to certain perils of acquiring “Potomac Fever,” which causes the loss of one’s wits,  my  last action as President would be to give myself something that money can’t buy. A ride on the Space Shuttle. 

No matter how strongly the masses begged, I would decline their pleas to return to Washington and continue to make the simple changes that will be required to fix our country. However, I wouldn’t mind working on the problem occasionally or from my  home, where myself and millions of Americans have been able to balance our checkbooks and make some pretty decent decisions during our brief years on Earth.

Too bad we don’t have a modern day Will Rogers. He would have had a blast with this Congress.

January 23, 2009

Not so stupid Okies!

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 6:53 pm
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On page three today, (also below) Oklahoma gets a pat on the back by a national economist for the state’s sound fiscal policy.
While we have significant financial needs, Oklahoma residents are fundamentally conservative and that sets our state apart from approximately 40 states which presently don’t know how they are going to survive financially in 2009.
Let your Congressional delegation know that you don’t want your tax dollars bailing out states that don’t know what fiscal responsibility is all about.

Economic Freedom is the Best Cure for Recession
By Lawrence J. McQuillan

As Americans buckle down for what could be a severe recession, many state governments are scrambling to find ways to keep their economies afloat. Luckily , when it comes to economic freedom — a major component of a state’s business climate — Oklahoma is well ahead of the pack.

According to the U.S. Economic Freedom Index, a recent study published by the Pacific Research Institute in association with Forbes, Oklahoma is among the most economically free states in the country. Although it often goes overlooked, the amount of economic freedom enjoyed by Oklahomans will play a significant role in determining how much damage the ongoing recession will do.

So what is economic freedom? It’s the ability to voluntarily exchange property under the rule of law. It can be as simple as buying a pack of gum from the corner store or as complex as merging two multinational corporations.

States with high levels of economic freedom avoid excessive regulations, high taxes, unfair licensing requirements, and wasteful welfare spending. Such policies get in the way of productive economic activity and retard a state’s economic growth and prosperity.

The data bear this out. In 2005, per-capita income grew 31-percent faster in the 15 most economically free states than it did in the 15 least-free states. That translates into more money in the pockets of average workers. Employment growth was a staggering 216-percent higher in the most-free states.

These figures should be of interest to policymakers contemplating economic stimulus packages. The facts show that the most effective way to create jobs and raise take-home pay is to expand economic freedom.

Economically unfree states, like California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York, will have a harder time recovering from the downturn. California faces crushing budget deficits and might not be able to issue tax refunds this year. And New York is reeling from the implosion of the financial industry.

In times of great economic growth, these states could get away with high taxes and tort laws that fleece businesses. But in the wake of the financial crisis, their wrongheaded policies will have disastrous, magnified consequences.

For one, less-free states could see an exodus of talent and capital. Census data showed an astounding 245-percent difference in migration rates between the freest states and least-free states in 2005. In other words, even in good economic times, people choose to leave economically restrictive states for freer ones.

Fortunately, some states have caught on to these realities and have taken steps to become more economically free. Chief among them is South Dakota, a state that has risen in the rankings 14 places since 2004. It is now the nation’s economically freest state. The Mount Rushmore State imposes no corporate-income tax, no personal-income tax, no personal-property tax, no business-inventory tax, and no inheritance tax.

If Oklahoma hopes to emerge from our nation’s economic rough patch, its leaders would be wise to continue to expand economic freedom. If they don’t, Oklahoma could be in for hard times for a long time.

Lawrence J. McQuillan, PhD, is director of Business and Economic Studies at the Pacific Research Institute. He is coauthor of the 2008 U.S. Economic Freedom Index. Contact him at

January 15, 2009

Oklahoma Politics

Filed under: General — stanstamper @ 8:02 pm
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As the 2009 legislative season approaches in Oklahoma with the convening of the legislature at the state capitol the first week of February, we will attempt to share with our readers some of the bills which our legislators are proposing.
This will give readers an opportunity to see for themselves what our paid legislators are up to, as well as an opportunity to contact your elected officials to voice your support or opposition to the legislation.
While Oklahoma has fared very well financially as compared to other states in the past two years, declining oil prices are certain to create some financial challenges for legislators, who are already stealing from Peter to pay Paul.
While most Oklahoma government agencies issue outcries for lack of funding, transportation among them (with thousands of miles of critical highways and scores of unsafe bridges) there will still be a push in the coming legislature to remove the state tax on groceries.
While this sounds good to border counties like Choctaw (since Texas doesn’t tax groceries), the state’s largest cities strongly oppose the removal of sales tax on groceries because their residents don’t have the opportunity to cross state lines and more importantly, they don’t want to lose the municipal tax revenue.
So a “one-size-fits-all” solution actually seldom works in Oklahoma. With the GOP driving this year’s legislative train, and most of them coming from OKC and western Oklahoma, the prospects for southeast Oklahoma gaining ground in this legislative season appear slim.
Time will tell.

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