Lakota Proposal from Miami University VOA Meeting

On October 20th at the Miami University branch in the VOA Park of West Chester, Mike Taylor, superintendent of Lakota Schools along with several other representatives of tax initiatives for the November 2nd ballot made their case for why people should vote for their issue.

The Lakota Levy was defeated.  However, because we know that Lakota will attempt to place the issue back on the ballot, I recorded the comments Taylor made and answered his comments with the No Lakota Levy response. 
The questions asked came from a panel of journalist made up of Lindsey Hilty of the Pulse Journal, and Debbra Silberman of 9 News. 

Notes from October 20, 2010 Meeting:

Opening comments:  Mike Taylor stated that this levy is a lean request. Lakota has 9 years of excellence; they turn out great students, maintain 22 buildings and in order to avoid making harmful cuts the community needs to pass this levy which will generate 21 million per year.  This levy approach is new for Lakota in that this is a 10 year operating levy.  It is not forever but will have to be voted on to be renewed.  70% of the residents do not have children in the school system.  30% of the residents do have children in the school.  And he added that the Lakota operates in a fiscal responsible manner.

  1. There was a question about what the state standards are, and he reported they are reading, writing, and science, with a minimum of art, music, and physical education.  Lakota goes beyond the state guidelines.  If the levy fails, there will be a reduction in art, music, and physical education.  There will also be an increase in class size and extra curricular activities.
    1. Lakota could avoid its problems with a simple freeze of step increases.  The average Lakota teacher salary is over $60,000 for working 184 days a year.  They have 15 paid sick days, and are required to work 37 hours per week.  They get a 14% contribution to their retirement plan and have a great medical plan.  The average cost per hour worked by a teacher at Lakota is $47 per hour.  The step increases will cost an additional $2.7 million each year which makes up a considerable part of their budget deficit projections. 


2.     Increase in spending outpaced inflation.  Why didn’t the school system deal with that trend?  Answer was that because of the lack of state funding, and the fact that they opened three new buildings, this caused the spending to escalate. He danced around the issue and did not directly answer.

  1. Lakota has made 3 different five year financial forecasts in the last 11 months.  The deficit projects started at over $28 million, and then were at $10 million, and most recently have been at $4.5 million, considerably less than the catastrophic amount originally announced.  If the school system had taken measures back in 2005, 2006 and again when the teachers threatened to strike in 2008, they could have avoided the situation they are currently in and could save jobs instead of protecting the top wage earners. 


3.    During the summer of 2005 the district was aware of the flat funding coming from the state, why weren’t there measures to save money before now?  Answer was that Lakota opened 3 new buildings, and in 2008 the district went into reduction mode.  They added 400 new students in 2005 and 500 in 2006.  Again, he did not directly answer the question.  And he did not answer as to why it took 3 years to react. 

  1. There was a levy that took three times to pass in late 2005 and those funds started kicking in around 2006.  It appears the school district got caught not addressing the issue because they had a renewed revenue stream.  


4.   There was a question as to why this levy was listed for 10 years when in fact the forecast shows that we’ll be out of money in 2014.  Taylor says Lakota has a history of reduction and that they will basically figure it out.  He didn’t know why such statements would be made.  And at the end of 10 years, we can decide if we want to renew it. 

  1. The fact is, when the May levy failed; the school system just took off the second part of that attempt.  They knew all along that with the $21 million per year generated with the school levy they’d be broke again in 2014.  This due to the step increase formula that would push wages into the average of $65 to $70 K per year range.


5.    Why can’t we have elimination of the step increases, because the savings could prevent the cuts to busing?  Taylor blamed all of Ohio on the wage structure and collective bargaining.  The union has worked with administration on two issues to help.  1st is the compensation structure.  Second are the health care benefits.  He also cited that the importance of teachers dictate that Lakota have the ability to purchase the best teachers.  Then he blamed state law that dictates the funding system. 

  1. These are union talking points.  Taylor was a member of the union for many years, and can’t turn his back on it now.  Saying that the union is working with the administration is too little too late.  With the wages in the range they are now, the revenue stream coming into Lakota cannot sustain the current contract, and nobody is suggesting a renegotiation.  The union shows no inclination of giving up ground it made in the 2008 threatened strike. 


6.     Next question is that if the state takes over, do levies go away?  His answer, is no.  The state puts together plans to generate revenue, and can only generate funds with property tax. 

  1. The fact of the matter on this is that once the state steps in, and determines what the financial situation is, they can renegotiate the teacher’s contract or at least elements of it. It’s the only way to get out of that obligation that the poorly negotiated contract Lakota is bound to can be reversed.   


7.     Have administrators had raises?  His answer was, no administrators have had a raise in 2 years.  Also health care benefits have been cut. 

  1. When it was noticed that they spent themselves into a financial problem, the administrators did go on a pay freeze.  But their current financial obligations are part of what I causing the trouble when many of those positions are over $70K per year.  To balance their budget, they need to reduce their burden to the school system by at least 30%.     


8.     How does the move to a 6 period day save money?  Cutting the extra period will cut 140 electives out of the day across the district and will result in a savings by shortening the day in this way. 

  1. The humorous issue here is that they are either stating that to provide a proper education we only need 6 periods, or that the teachers are going to get paid for a free hour per day because they won’t be working.  How is this efficient?  Completely irresponsible and short-sighted. This statement shows why Lakota is in trouble.  They think a shorter day means less money.  But they will still pay their entire staff, except for the position eliminated their full pay.    


9.     What effect does an excellent rating have on communities?  Lakota has 9 years of excellence and distinction.  18,500 students get an individualized education.  Lakota has award winning art programs, music and athletics.  That’s why people move to Lakota.  A struggling school system shows a struggling community.

  1. Lakota is not a great school by happenstance.  The children attending have parents that are involved in their lives, and that is a direct correlation to the quality of the student bodies.  The school system is great because the community is great.  Not the other way around.  Making statements like the one Mike Taylor made is pretentious.  Again, they are trying to sell their services to the community so of course they are going to attempt to inflate the value.  But that has to be understood by the community.  Teachers could come and go and the students would still succeed because the families sending their kids to school are involved.  The value of a teacher is important.  But does cost alone determine value?  No.  The teachers just in education for the money could leave for schools that are also drowning in the same type of wage structure.  There are lots of teachers that would like to work at Lakota even if for less money, because the community is wonderful, the environment is successful, and the parents are easy to deal with.  Lakota will continue to have those benefits to offer potential employees to the school system. 


10.     How do you arrive at the calculation of student to teacher ratio?  How is it made?  How is Lakota’s student teacher ratio in relation to the State needs?  Answer was an obscure one; he said Lakota makes use of specialized teachers which helps reduce class sizes. 

  1. Class size is something to the teachers benefit.  In colleges, many classes have more than 30 people per class, so as a college prep issue, larger class sizes will prepare students for education at the next level, which won’t be able to provide such specialized treatment. 


11.     Are the teachers being let go associated with electives?  Enrollment trends dictated reductions so far.  He did not answer part of the question related to the failure of the levy. 

  1. We know that the teachers being cut will not come out of the top wage earners.  And if the classes offered are not essential to education needs, then levy or no levy, Lakota should cut the electives that are not necessary to keep costs down. 


12.     Where do people get the money to pay for the levy?  He said that Lakota is caught in a perfect storm, with the state cap, and then reduced funding by 3% over the last 2 years.  The state system is broken.  Spending at Lakota is less per pupil.  Strong schools can help make a strong community.

  1. Without the levy they will not be able to increase their budget for the 2012 per the planned $13 million increase, and have to operate on the same dollars as in 2011.  What they are going through is the same thing the community is going through. 


Closing statement; fate of our community is at stake.  State ratings are not what are important.  The value to the community is Lakota can help each child no matter what their level.  It will protect real estate values of the community.  A struggling community is reflective of a struggling school system.

  1. We voted for this levy in May, and in that election 65% voted it down.  All the election ballots had not even been counted yet before the superintendent announced that the issue would be back on the ballot in November.  Now the purpose of that election was not to have another election 6 months later, and to keep holding elections until it passes.  That kind of behavior is disrespectful to the voters. 
  2. When you look at the numbers, at what they are spending their money on, you will find that they are spending just over 75% on wages and benefits.  So they should have some control over their budget problems.  They are working with a budget of $160,547,327.00 and that is more than generous.   So when they say they are going to dismantle the school system, or that parents can’t expect the same kind of service from the school, they are being deceitful, which is a very serious situation, because they are making a decision to hurt the district. 
    1. As I was looking at why they are in so much trouble what becomes obvious is that they have over 434 teachers and administrators making over $65,000 per year, with quite a few making between $80,000 and $100,000. 
    2. Now, I’m all for people making a good wage.  But when that money is funded off tax payer support, and it is obvious that the administration at Lakota did not behave responsibly when they negotiated contracts with the union in the past, because they have spent themselves into a corner, and now the budget is unsustainable.  The wages they are making are at least 30% more than the private sector jobs of comparable positions of those in the community that are paying the taxes. 


Employee wages and benefits                             $120,758,911.00
Purchased services                               $26,431,714.00
Supplies and Materials                                 $4,206,669.00
Capital Outlay                                 $3,394,834.00
Debt Service                                 $1,225,781.00
Transfers and Advances                                 $1,996,206.00
Other Uses                                 $2,533,212.00


  1. When Lakota says that if they don’t get the money they will:
    1. Cut an additional 103+ teachers and staff
    2. Two thirds of the athletics budget including elimination of Jr. High athletics.
    3. Eliminating additional academic programs and extracurricular programs.
    4. Reducing bus service for High School students and those students within a two mile radius
    5. Drastic cuts in gifted education and other student services.
  1. What this says is that the administrators would rather dismantle the school district than attempt to re-negotiate with the union in order to bring wages into more sustainable amounts.  With a quick calculation, if the Lakota school system took a 30% pay cut, they wouldn’t have to diminish anything.  They could generate $27 million right away.  That means someone like the superintendant who makes $147,505 and reduces it to $103,253, or a teacher that is making $78,426 and put them at $54,898.  And everyone could keep their jobs; get paid fairly, and more importantly, the kids come out on top with full community support.  But there isn’t any desire for something like that, and that tells you where their real thoughts are. 


Lakota like many school systems over time have allowed the teaching profession to migrate into a wage rate comparable to doctors and lawyers.  They justify this by citing that the cost of obtaining the education, for a master’s degree, or a doctorate is similar, so in turn they should be paid the same.

And that leaves us with the true tragedy of modern public education, where an institution that is generally trusted by the residents of a community, have lost their credibility.  On the surface, people know there is waste.  They see the new buildings, the see the elaborate sports facilities, and they shake their head.  But come levy voting time, they tend to reluctantly vote in favor of them because they either have a child going to school or they know one that does.  And because people stay very busy making livings for themselves, they want desperately to trust that the school system has the interest of the community as a first priority. 

It doesn’t take much however to pull back the curtain and see what’s really going on.  And anyone with just a bit of business sense can see the problem.  Wages for teachers and administrators are just too high.  In the state of Ohio, based on the website the average attorney makes $57,000, and a doctor, $73,000.  A Plant Manager typically makes $72,000.  The average for a teacher in the state of Ohio is $54,000.  And the average for a teacher at Lakota is $59,000.    There are currently 1,137 teachers working in Lakota, and based on a report from the Pulse Journal which came out in March 18th of 2010 in their Insight 2010 Edition, Lakota has 434 teachers that make over $65,000 per year. 

Now when you look at the pie chart of their operating costs, and you see that easily over 75% of their cost of doing business is wrapped up in wages and benefits for the employees of the School, not to busing, not to construction, not to power supply and other usages, yet you hear that if the levy doesn’t pass, they are going to cut busing, they are going to force a pay to play policy in sports, and they are going to lay-off 130 plus teachers and administrators which will increase class sizes, it leaves you scratching your head.  That is until you realize that they are attempting to scam you. 

Those types of coercion are union strategies that have successfully hindered many sectors of our economy, and it is particularly ruthless to use children to manipulate parents.  Yet the people involved will swear they are putting the children first.  Yet when it comes time to pass a levy, they point to other districts that are equally in trouble and say they are operating at a savings, as Lakota proclaims.  But they never deal with what causes the excessive costs.  It’s the weight of their wages and benefits packages, exclusively.  And rather than explore other options, they resort to the formula, the same formula being used at Little Miami, at Edgewood, or Mason, and that is to protect the top by sacrificing the bottom and put the parents between a rock and a hard place to secure funding. 

Once you figure out that you’ve been lied to and manipulated, you tend to get angry about it.  It’s one thing when it happens at the state level, which is far away from us.  It’s another when it happens in the Federal government, where we look at it, talk about it, and shake our heads, but do little about it, because that situation is even further away.  But when it’s a school system, an institution that you invested your hopes and dreams for your children into, it’s a bit harder to swallow.  Yet it’s right in front of our face. 

Government jobs on average pay 45% higher than private sector jobs, and this is why we all know that government is failing.  Their costs do not reflect reality. 

Lakota is trying to raise 21.75 million in this levy, and if they don’t get the money, they are threatening to completely dismantle the school system, with a massive layoff, losing our excellent rating, which will adversely destroy property values.  All those threats are very serious, for a group of people making 45% more than the tax payers funding their activity, and that is a real problem, because they haven’t even looked at any other options. 

The NoLevy group was talking in one of our meetings, and we approached the problem the same way we would in one of our businesses, and we came up with an option that I think is particularly attractive and that is that they take a universal pay cut of 30%.  That would allow everyone to still keep their jobs, allow the school system to operate as it has.  The only reason they wouldn’t do it is complete selfishness.  If it was really about the kids, they would have done something like that already.  A thirty percent cut in wages would simply put someone like Mike Taylor, who is the superintendent making $147,505 a year and bring him down to $103,253.50 per year.  A wage many would love to have even with his responsibility level.  A thirty percent reduction would put that teacher making $78,600 and lower them to only $55,020, hardly a measly amount of pay. 

Now of course nobody at the top will talk about doing anything like this.  So as far as the NoLakota people and the Pro Lakota people talking, there isn’t anything to discuss.  We’ve seen all the charts and stats they’ve thrown up, and we know its all smoke screen to this more serious problem that nobody wants to deal with.   So we’re going to deny them the funding and make them deal with it.  If they want to earn over 100K a year, they will be working hard for it.  And I’m sure Mike Taylor, who isn’t a bad guy by any means, I’m sure he’d look to Mason and say it’s not fair for me to reduce my wages because Kevin Bright over there is making $218,315 for being a superintendent.  Well, Mason is in trouble too, for all the same reasons.   Somebody needs to be the leader. 

But there are options and they are certainly fair options.  The people see through this.  Some of the younger residents that have kids in the system don’t want to apply the same principles they may use in their jobs because it’s personally painful to them.  Most young professionals rely on the school system to handle their children during the day, so they are willing to put up with some of the obvious waste.  But during the last levy 65% voted against the levy, and of that 65% many are business leaders and mangers themselves, and senior citizens that have been around and seen a lot, and know they are being taken advantage of, and it makes them angry.

And Lakota did hold out the branch, and wanted to give a presentation to our group, because they were hoping to take the edge off this election early.  The trouble with that is they did probably the worst thing they could have done before holding out that branch.  In May when we voted for this the first time, we flat out rejected it.  And on election night, Mike Taylor announced that the levy would be back on the ballot.  What he really said was that he did not respect the opinion of the voters, and that for this next election, they would work harder, raise more money, print more signs, and get more kids to go home and strong arm their parents instead of doing the right thing, and bringing all the wages into a reasonable amount and being the first in the state of Ohio to do it, showing the expected leadership of such a powerful school system.  That’s what the voters wanted after the last election.  They ignored us and preceded on to put the levy on the ballot again, and again, and again, until people just give up and pass it, and their livelihoods can be secured in comfort for the foreseeable future. 

So make no mistake.  They are not putting the kids or the community first, only their own self interest. 

Rich Hoffman

Social Value, Education, Walt Disney and the Great Chuck Yeager

In another post, I put up a list of some of the most successful people in the world that did not go to college. What you find on that list, besides a lot of actors and entertainers that equate to those fortunate enough to strike gold, are many, many billionaires that founded major companies from Dell computer, to the Walt Disney Company.

From my own college experience, I understand clearly what the problem is. Education can only give you some of what you need. Most of the work of starting something from nothing can’t be taught, and if your goal is success, that inspiration has to come from someplace deep inside. Is there a teacher out there that can teach someone to be Richard Branson, George Lucas, or Bill Gates? If they could they would. But they can’t, in fact, a lot of the time, the teacher teaches because they aren’t good at actually doing things in the real world.

So that leaves me to question the validity of the entire institutional system. Now that the Lakota Levy is over, at least this time around, I think it’s time to bring to question what the value of education actually is.

The difficulty in determining the value of education is that so many have built secure incomes off education. What brought the whole issue to my mind was the book Forbidden Archeology which showed to what extremes universities suppressed scientific evidence discovered in the field of archeology and anthropology. The reason for the suppression was to protect their previous scientific finds and the legacy of those revelations, so new evidence was a threat to the security built on those reputations.

To keep it clear sports is the best explanation. Consider what the NFL would be like if great teams were always allowed to draft first in each years draft class. The NFL to keep things competitive and entertaining, created salary caps, so teams would have to make decisions on who they could keep on their teams, and who’d be let go. And they came up with the idea of letting teams with the worst record draft first in the following year’s draft. That way, new teams are always emerging as good teams and competition is always evolving. And we all benefit from the entertainment value.

But in education, we are still teaching kids the same way we did at the turn of the century, even though new methods and computer technology allow for other options. We still have schools shutting down in the summer even though that concept was started to let young men help their fathers on the family farms during harvest season. But, teachers unions have kept that going for the sake of benefits.

I would argue that a teacher standing in the front of a room and teaching as an authoritarian on the given subject is an archaic method long outdated. I would say that teaching children to stand in line at lunch, to stand in line when they walk down the hall to go to recess, to walk in line to go to an assembly, to stand in line for attendance in gym class, and so on and so on are psychologically bad for the development of young people. Because what it teaches them is to follow orders. In the education system we currently have, following orders is the emphasis, and I would argue that mentality is completely wrong for American society.

I can hear you groaning right now dear reader. I can hear your questions. But understand something in my explanation here, I am questioning the very foundation upon which everything is built, because to my eyes it is not perfect, and does not produce the type of individuals American society needs, so it is subject to ridicule. It is quite probable that you as the reader are a victim to a lifetime of acceptance to this established system, so to question it will be difficult for you. I understand.

But, for the sake of this article, forget everything you ever learned, and suspend your belief system and look with the eyes of a person new to the culture you exist in, and enjoy the revelations that befall you.

Consider for a moment how idiotic the hazing rituals of college are. The drinking games, the insults from your peers, the ridiculous dares that take place, the structure of those rituals are technically insane. But is it a mystery as to why those belonging to a fraternity have a network from which to launch their careers? Isn’t it strange the rituals of the bachelor party which seem to be important to many males, especially those belonging to fraternities where their “brotherhood” reflects a deep bond that exceeds or equals the bond with the wife to be. And to the sorority sisters the same mentality holds true. The night before their weddings is inundated with penis worship. The women, particularly sorority sisters gather and bond among rituals of drinking and male strippers. But why? What is to be accomplished in these ceremonies? If you are an employer, and are looking for a nice obedient employee that will know their place and not challenge the authority structure, a frat boy is an attractive option, because they know their place. And in the scope of these rituals as the participants emerge into marriage, the brothers and sisters have a shared secret that bonds them, and ensures the continuation of the bond in respect to the new marriage. Secrets create a bond.

With fraternities and sororities, which serve basically the same role as the military soldier that gets off the bus and is yelled at by a drill sergeant prior to getting their hair cut, which is the beginning of a mental transformation as an individual and into the collective identity of a soldier. And thus, are the two primary paths that young people take after high school. Now during high school and grade school there are many smaller rituals that occur. By the time a youngster is a senior in high school, they know their peer groups. They know where they fit into the social stratus, and this seems to be the number one goal of grade school. The athletes achieve the top social order. The other students that participate in the extracurricular activities to a lesser degree make up the next. Then you have the scholastically strong, and then you have all the rest to varying degrees down to the rejects that fall through the cracks for various reasons turning to drugs and alcohol earlier than the rest of the young people. The goal of all discussed in this paragraph is to allow the individual to find out where they fit into the peaking order of society.

Now be honest with yourself. What is the greatest concern you had in grade school, or college? How about now? When your neighbor buys a new grill, do you feel the urge to get a new one as well? Do you feel that the car you drive is a display to your neighbors, friends and family to the status of your placement in society? Or your house? Or the wife or husband that you’ve obtained for yourself? What are the true values that you hold dear?

If the values were healthy ones, and you were happy with yourself and your life, then you wouldn’t over-eat and carry around that huge stomach, or that giant caboose, or you wouldn’t be divorced, or on your second or third marriage. You wouldn’t be taking high blood pressure medicine, or taking drugs to deal with depression. If you were happy with your life you would never desire to become drunk, because such a state is an escape from yourself, if only for a short time.

My point is not to lecture you. But it is to point out that if the system worked, then people wouldn’t be broken all around us. It’s not necessarily their fault. They’ve been taught to be broken. They’ve been taught to be only a fraction of themselves. There is an old saying that it is “not good to be too good.” The reason why is that being good, being exceptional, are threats to the animalistic peaking order of our social structure.

I received over the Lakota Levy Campaign letter after letter from angry teachers and parents who want to overlook all the obvious problems of the current system in favor of keeping the system intact. They have completely bought into much of this nonsense, and the prospect that it is all meaningless is just simply too much for them to fathom. They come across sounding like children still developing their emotional states, but the danger is that they are actually parents themselves, passing on to children the same neurotic states they are currently professing.

And I’d be lying if I said I was surprised when the Lakota Levy failed, and there were tears from the people supporting the whole thing. They simply cannot see the phantoms that dictate the funding model. They cannot through their training see beyond the patriotism of their alter mater.

Do you know what alter mater means? It was used in ancient Rome as a title for various mother goddesses. In modern times, it is often a school, college, or university attended during one’s formative years. So throughout the lives of many, their alter mater will always be important to them, a ground for which to place their footing. However, it is tragic that such beliefs do not allow one to see the faults of the system of their upbringing. To see faults for such people is to literally see the faults of ones parents.
Now such a thing does happen when young people move into their teens. They cast off the garb of their parents and move into some of the various paths of institutionalism. Many schools are literally many people’s second mother experience.
I once watched football players reciting the Ohio State song during the conclusion of a football game. And the crowd in the stands was noticeably emotional, so the whole experience was a ceremonial one. The collectivism displayed to me was very disconcerting. To the participants, it was comforting, like a mother’s hug. To me, it was a disgusting display of childlike behavior from what should be grown adults.

So what many of these blind patriots clinging to their alter mater share is that they cannot see what cancers inhabit these mothers, because they are unable to digest the criticism toward a loved one.
What permeates these institutions is a level of socialist thought designed to undermine American society. Such thoughts are foreign to these lovers of their second mothers because to their frail minds, war is always fought with guns and in far away lands. But some wars do not involved physical domination. And they don’t involve guns. But they are psychological warfare initiated during the Cold War to dismantle American society. And it is so subtle that even the people within the system can not see it, because they are too close to see.
And this is the problem with education as an occupation. Through collective bargaining, socialist have dominated organized unions and they have made it very lucrative through their use of Saul Alinskey to drive wages up to levels that caused people not to question their methods, because the money they offer brings a level of comfort to the participants of the union. But what is really happening is that in exchange for that income, teachers and administrators are willing to sacrifice their personal freedoms in exchange for that secure middle class income. And that is the strategy of socialists, is to bring down the top level achievers to create a collective middle class. And they have established themselves in our education systems.

I read a book called the Frontiersman several years ago by the great author Alan Eckart and I was shocked that the first time I ran into that material I was as a grown man, because honestly I should have been given that book when I studied Ohio History in the fourth grade. The book may be a bit too hard of a read for a fourth grader, but it certainly should have been recommended reading by 8th grade. The book chronicles the life of Simon Kenton and his battles with the Indian leaders such as Tecumseh and Blue Jacket. It features Daniel Boone, George Washington, and many other characters critical to life on the frontier in 1750 on. It is action packed and shows Indians eating settlers. It has graphic battles and shows the treachery capable between the French and the English. It is a marvelous book.
But in school, I was taught that Indians were Native Americans with an emphasis on the encroachment of the white man upon Native American land. I was taught that slavery was all important instead of one part of the history of the United States. I was taught the merits of feminism. The merits of tolerance, and on and on along those lines. It was dreadfully boring. In fact I remember asking my eight grade English teacher why we had to read Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet. I asked the same question to my ninth grade teacher, where we read the same material again. It wasn’t till I was in my thirties that I read for the first time Titus Andronicus. And I asked, “Why did I not read this in the eighth grade!” I would have read all of Shakespeare by the conclusion of my eighth grade year for fun if I had known that Titus was such a great play! But I had to discover that on my own, away from schools unfortunately.

On of the times I went to college, on the first day of school in my philosophy class the professor instructed us that we would begin a study of Tao Te Ching, a book I had read on my own over a weekend a couple of years earlier. I took three classes and realized I was wasting my time. I already had developed leadership skills at the time that companies would be willing to hire me for. I thought a degree would help me in some way, but I found that to not be the case once I had started working and developed a network to work within, because companies always need leadership. But what did I need out of a college that spent three weeks studying a book that the students should read over the weekend? I saw the same blank looks on my class mates in college that I saw in high school; the “I have to be here” look “so I can get a certification,” so I can get a good job. I decided in that philosophy class that the instructor was just going through the motions. He was just studying what had come, and he had no ambition to produce something for the future. He was just collecting a paycheck, like the rest of the professors. It looked like a big scam to me, all three times that I went, I always came back to the same conclusion.
I also have recollections of a high school party that I once went to where I sat in the living room of a nice Lakota home where the parents were out of town, and the kid that lived their had a party where most of the senior and junior class showed up. MTV was a rather new thing back then, and was on in the living room and a bunch of kids were watching a video of Pink Floyd’s The Wall playing. Most of the room was smoking pot and drinking voracious amounts of alcohol. I sat stunned even then at the herd like mentality of the kids. I did not participate in their drunken splendor or the mind numbing drugs. I was happy to talk to a girl that wanted some male company, but that’s all I wanted from such events. The social aspect of those events meant nothing.

I saw the same kind of mentality from the college kids at Miami University where I went to see a girl I knew at the time there. She was in a massive sorority party that took up an entire apartment complex. Every room I’d go in had kids smoking pot. Some of the rooms were the size of a large closet and might have 20 to 50 people packed into them all passing around a joint. The girl I went to see had given oral sex to at least two guys that I knew of that night. One of the guys was engaged to be married to a girl that was in the other room with a room full of guys passed completely out and had lost every bit of her cloths. Nobody cared. I see these type of events glorified in films like Hangover, which I thought was funny, but if you think about it, we’ve all come to accept the term, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” We don’t bat an eye at such despicable behavior. Rather, it is common now. We send our daughters to school, and pay small fortunes to do so. And we watch secretly those same girls our daughter’s age stripping off their tops and going topless in spring break activity which we endorse with our barbaric lust. And we tell our sons to take all the women they can while they still can, before they reduce themselves to the marriage to one woman for the rest of their lives.

I went to such events completely sober and watched with distance. Later that same night the friends I went to the party with, who were drunk got into a fight with the football team for the university. It was comical and easy to win a fight against a mob of drunken fools. But my friends ended up in jail while I had the presence of mind to leave the scene while police cleaned up the bodies like they were shoveling snow. The university covered for the football players, who actually started the fight. My friends were released once they sobered up. While that was going on, I sat in a Wendy’s by myself and watched late into the early morning the foolish college kids, many of which were older than me at the time, living a life style of complete recklessness, and I sat there reading my book, Yeager, which was about the life of Chuck Yeager, a person I greatly admire.

I could literally tell you thousands of such stories, because for a time in my late teens and into my early twenties, when the world told me to be one way, and that I had to travel down this college path, or that military path, I rejected both. I wanted absolutely nothing to do with either system. Actually, I became something of an outlaw in the eyes of society, until I meant my wife just before one of the worst car wrecks I had ever been in, the second car crash that had taken place at over 100 mph in a year. Neither time was I the driver. At that time I married her, and retired to a life of reading, which I have done ever since. And I have found that college was breeding sheep. I craved to live the life of a lion. You have to decide in life whether you’re going to be the hammer or the nail. The education system like any good factory is producing millions and millions of nails. But only the hand crafted craftsman is making hammers. And my becoming a hammer was forged with much pain, but it has been a journey well worth taking.
So my opinions come from a source of personal observation where I looked at the facts, and asked the question as to where this was going. And I rejected it in favor of my own education. And I will say that at the time, Chuck Yeager had more to do with that than anyone.
Yeager had shot down more enemies in a single day than anyone else in the European theater during World War II in his Mustang and he wasn’t a college trained pilot. He had raw instinct that always gave him an edge over everyone else. I shared with Chuck lightning reflexes that I used when driving and racing cars illegally, and a raw nerve that helped me in many circumstances. Yeager had those traits and that is why he developed into a world class test pilot for the Air Force. He developed a great relationship with engineers who lacked Chuck’s natural ingenuity. And it was because Chuck was a rare breed of man even for that time that allowed him to break the sound barrier in the X-1 over the civilian pilot Slick Goodlin who demanded $150,000 to fly the X-1. Chuck did it because he just wanted to do it. So he was in it for the right reasons.

I can relate.

Such images had a powerful impact on me that I carried all my life. I am proud to report that I have always taken that stance even when the temptation of powerful politics and business influence dangled the carrot in front of my face. I decided that I’d rather be my own man; self made that no alter mater could take credit for. And if society didn’t like it, to hell with them! At the end of my life, I’d have a clean soul and I’d be proud of it.
Of course taking such a stance will get you into a lot of trouble, and it has. One notable time that involved a labor union that I was actually in, yet I refused to pay dues to them, didn’t like the idea that I was asked to work the weekend at a company I worked for, because union rules said the foreman should have asked the employees with more seniority first, caused a massive stink, which caused four of the shop stewards to corner me in the bathroom for a fight. I had a reputation of fighting one on one, so they decided that four of them might intimidate me. It didn’t.
We agreed to meet after work so none of us would get fired. I went to the agreed upon vacant lot to meet these guys for a fight. And guess what, they didn’t show up. I was there by myself watching these tough union stewards driving up and down the road revving up their engines trying to intimidate me like some silly animal making noise to frighten their pry. Only they didn’t know what to do when I wasn’t frightened by their actions.
It is clear to me where civilization fails, and when good people trade away their freedoms for a bit of security, something dies in them. And you can see it on their faces. Their skin is dying prematurely. Their health is usually bad, or is going bad. They usually can’t endure much by way of stress. In men, they suffer from erectile dysfunction, in women a lack of desire for the act. And all this starts with the values we give to ourselves through our education system which clearly extends beyond reading, writing and arithmetic.
So when those carcasses of living flesh proclaim to me that I cannot teach a class-room, or that I did not get a college degree, or that I did not follow down a path that they understand, and therefore cannot understand their situation, they are like children asking me to explain something that they do not have the life experience yet to understand, because they have not yet lived life. And in many cases, that includes those that are ready to retire from a life they consider hard work, and they are ready to collect that pension they worked hard to preserve. I can not explain to them the sound of the wind, or the heat of the sun, when they have lived their whole lives confined to the controlled circumstances of academia, and the powers that perpetuate political influence from that platform.

To say that in this day an age education is a must for success and that no longer can people do as Chuck Yeager did, because these days you must have college. Those are only the rules of established society, and companies that continue to advocate such beliefs will continue to find that the employees they take out of the education system are watered down products not quite up to the tasks they are looking for. The exceptional find such restraints too confining and the best of the best reject it all together willing to suffer the lack of security for the clear vision being free of obligation to alter maters provides.
I would dare say that the success of Glenn Beck is a modern example of just such a philosophy. He stays ahead of the curve and is clear in his outlooks because he does not have the burden of being educated not to see. How many people have come along like Walt Disney, a guy with only a high school education, much like Glenn Beck? Steven Spielberg also didn’t have a college education when he was doing his best stuff. And now that he’s bought in to some of the progressive philosophies, his ability to wield the magic of the past is gone. It’s gone from him as a filmmaker.

So what conclusion can we make? Are the most successful among us freaks of nature, beyond the scope of normal mankind? Is it impossible to think that the kid living next door to you may not be the next Walt Disney? I would say that our education system as it currently is dotted with a socialist mentality from grade one to the doctorate in college, is teaching us not to reach for the stars, and to settle for the muddy middle where a strong middle class promises a life of few lows in life, but also few highs either. And a rather eventless story at the end of one’s personal book only to be lost in the annuals of time, where much bolder and action packed stories will reside in the memory of the human race.
And do not think that the conventional path taken is the path of purity, and do not subject those that reject your choice with additional taxes. I respect your decision to live a life as described in this article. But don’t ask me to fund such a despicable existence.

Rich Hoffman