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Lodi Unified School District shouldn’t spend money on programs we don’t need

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Posted: Thursday, June 16, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:29 am, Thu Jun 16, 2011.

It becomes “curiouser and curiouser.” I noticed the Lodi Unified School District decided to spend $37 million for a Green Tech Academy, not because we need it, but to expand curriculum offerings.

Green technology is based on sustainability, yet there is nothing sustainable about spending money we don’t have, for programs we don’t need, to provide results we don’t want! To me it’s like deciding to paint the Titanic after the order to lower the lifeboats.

From 1998 to 2006, I participated and respectfully provided inputs as a PTC (not PTA) president, a member of the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee and member of the curriculum council. I saw little that made sense and my input was ignored, with a polite “thank you.”

The LUSD budget went from $108 million when I became involved to recently $250 million (before reductions). During that same time and to the present, half of the high school graduates require remedial English and math on entering college. The best students still do very well; in site of the system, not because of it. Those who don’t have the resources or need more direction are being short-changed.

We need less spending and more sensible investment. Lodi is one of the best school districts, but the best of bad is not much to me, and a sad comment on what has become the education business. By the way, it has been documented in Spain and now Sweden that there is a loss of 2.5 to 3 jobs for every one new “green job.” Look it up.

In recent years there has been a predominance of retired or former education people elected as trustees. I think that level of representation becomes a de facto conflict of interest, more than a benefit of experience. We need businessmen and women, professionals, and farmers to sacrifice their time to be on the board. The taxpayers, parents, teachers and most importantly students are “being ripped off.”

Paul Verdegaal

Acampo

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22 comments:

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 10:02 am on Sat, Jun 18, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Kevin...I think it goes beyond splitting hairs. Its more like vaporizing the hairs. No government intervention = no green tech industry any time soon. I really do think green tech is the way to go, but we are definitely getting it shoved down our throats. Its why I despise leftist politics... the ends "always" justifies the means; just like Obamacare that was forced on us. In my opinion, the left should take their paternalistic “ we know what is best for you” attitude and leave me alone... I do not want social security, medicare or any other government enslavement programs foisted on me...since I know that will never happen and the left's agenda is inevitable, I'm making my own plans.

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 4:28 pm on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 1904

    Darrell, it may be splitting hairs to you but I don't think i have contradicted myself between the electric cars discussion and now.

    Yes, the government needs to stay out of the green tech development, that is not over regulate it and make it so bogged down with red tape that it drowns. To the other extreme the Government cannot be allowed to FORCE people to go green because it likes the tech. I see incentive programs as falling in-between somewhere. My biggest complaint about the government incentive programs is that it will keep the prices artificially high. If the car is worth 20K incentives give 15K then the dealer will list it at 34K to attract buyers and get as much for it as they can. Take away the Government incentives and the price will drop to a market sustained level.

    I do think the government can help by offering inspiration for the green tech since in the long run the more people with greener cars than today's average would be a benefit to the government. This inspiration should come in the way of a yearly tax credit to the car maker that sells the most greener cars. Say all cars that get better than 50mpg hwy are in one category and all cars that don't use gas in another (this category would include solar, bio-fuel, algae or human power). I would even consider a tax credit for the vehicle with the best MPG that is on the market and sells over a certain level. The financial reward and maybe even more, the bragging rights, could inspire a lot more focus on this niche market. Conversely I think there should be a tax penalty for the maker who is marketing the vehicle with the WORST gas mileage for public use.

    I would agree with your oil to green scenario as long as there is a lag between the estimated depletion of the reserves and the full implementation of the green tech. As long as on the other end of the spectrum areas that can be used for wave generators, off shore wind farms and other potential green regions are opened with the same zealous development.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 1:52 pm on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Kevin stated...My response: I agree. From the beginning I have been saying the government needs to stay out of the way and let the private sector drive the innovations and changes in green tech.

    Kevin... now you are making my position yours... This is what I have been saying in each post I have debated you... in fact, there is little you have stated in your last two posts that I disagree with... I agree green needs to come... its the method, strategy and timing that is the concern.
    Right now, the government is driving the entire green movement through regulation and extra large tax incentives... remember the Lodi guy who had 50% of his electric car paid for by tax credits...I think this post you made directly contradicts everything you have stated until today.

    By the way Kevin... to say you are a little passionate about “green tech” is like saying Don Rickles is a little shy ( smile).

    and another by the way... I would be wiling to compromise...I would agree that Green tech be reinforced at the same level it is now, if the oil industry was permitted to explore all possibilities to harness oil and natural gas based prodution as well... oil and gas for the next 20-30 years... with green technology overtaking and then replacing it thereafter... there has got to be middle ground somewhere.

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 1:00 pm on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 1904

    I'm not talking about going hippy, living in mud huts and mashing all our food by hand and being all sweaty after cycling to the office. i think though that most of our power needs can be met with a more green solution. Driving a vehicle that gets 20-30 MHG instead of a gas guzzler. Cycling with a tow-behind for errands when possible (stores already give you a few cents for bringing your own bags, how about something similar for cycling). Solar panels, roof mounted wind turbines are easy installs and create the cash flow i talked about. Wave generators in the ocean when possible wind and solar farms for communities are real solutions to energy needs.

    Electric cars are cool, but unless you have a dedicated solar source then i can see the point that it doesn't really save on energy demands. But higher efficient engines with 30-40 even 60 or 70 MPG can decimate our demands for foreign oil. there are new engine designs coming out that have a lot of promise for meeting extreme efficiency without much loss of HP.

    Strip malls and box stores with roof top green houses not only helps with cooling of the main building but also helps with local food production. If the green house is not possible then using wind turbines and solar panels to eliminate energy costs and pass those savings on to us is a good thing as well.

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 12:46 pm on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 1904

    I realize green tech won't solve our economic problems today or next year or maybe even in the next decade. BUT the reality is that the US is using finite fuel sources (oil and gas) as if there is an unlimited source for it. As these resources start running out costs and tensions will skyrocket. The only way to prevent a global economic collapse greater than what we experienced with the housing crash is to start making the adjustment to green today. It will delay the depletion of the world oil and gas supplies, it will make the US less vulnerable to outside governments affecting our supplies like in the 70's, and, ultimately the greener a community is the less vulnerable it is to environmental disaster.

    After an Earthquake one of the threats in loss of drinkable water and food storage with power loss. If most of the houses can provide their own power then water can be filtered and food kept cold. Stores can continue to operate on their own power. this is just one example.

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 12:31 pm on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 1904

    Man I need a new lap top, this one keeps dropping my posts.

    Fallacy 2 and 3: I lump these together since they are related. Basically I read these that too much government action in the development of green tech is a bad thing. That the public cannot be forced to support green tech.

    My response: I agree. From the beginning I have been saying the government needs to stay out of the way and let the private sector drive the innovations and changes in green tech. It is the public that needs to embrace the change and promise of green tech. i don't expect everyone to be green happy in the next 50 yrs, but I hope that 10-20% are green happy in that time. I believe the more people who have green tech and share their experiences with it then the more people will want it.

    I'd love to see more residential developers build whole neighborhoods with solar panels on the houses. Solar powered street lights. Maybe even a couple wind turbines at the neighborhood park. I'd love to see banks knock a point off the loan for using green tech in the house.

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 12:16 pm on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 1904

    Darrell, don't have that book on my shelves so i can't respond to it's content as a whole but I will respond to what you listed.

    Fallacy one, if I am reading it right says that local production won't help with the world economy and would require more spent in welfare programs and would lead to economic disaster.

    my rebuttal: Economic theory is kind of like politics and religion, everyone thinks they are right and those who don't agree are wrong. Mr. Michaels may be right about local production. But what I have been arguing is not production but rather cash flow. If a new house is built with solar energy rolled into the main loan then the cost is negligible compared to the savings from little to no cost for electricity. For example, the uncle of one of the kids on my ball team has solar on their house, heats their pool with electricity, runs their air/heat nearly year round all day. For us that would be a $500-$700 bill a month, he pays $40. That is $460 per month that can be spent in the economy. Green tech can significantly increase the cash flow for the average family, and that will improve the economy, in theory.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 11:54 am on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403


    Patrick J. Michaels Until 2007 he was research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, where he had worked from 1980.[1] … wrote a book called The False Promise of Green Energy with: In this book, he reviews various falacies including the following... ( what do you think of this book) I state this because you state logic and facts should come before fear... this man is not about fear... please comment.


    Fallacy: The world economy can be remade based on local production and reduced consumption without dramatically decreasing human welfare. Fact: The green jobs literature rejects the benefits of trade, ignores opportunity costs, and fails to include consumer surplus in welfare calculations to promote its vision. This is a recipe for an economic disaster, not an ecotopia.

    Fallacy: Mandates are a good substitute for markets. Fact: Green jobs proponents assume that they can reorder society by mandating preferred technologies. But the responses to mandates are not the same as the responses to market incentives -- and, as history proves, will not lead to the desired results.

    Fallacy: Technological progress ordered by politicians will happen, and be cost-effective. Fact: The preferred technologies in the green jobs literature face significant problems which are documented in readily available technical literature, but resolutely ignored in the green jobs reports; meanwhile, existing technologies that fail to meet the green jobs proponents' political criteria are simply rejected out of hand. This selective technological optimism/pessimism is not a sufficient basis for remaking society to fit the dreams of planners, politicians, or plutocrats who want others to live lives they think other people should be forced to lead.

    This man has an A.B. and S.M in biological sciences and plant ecology PhD (1979) in ecological climatologyAlma mater University of Chicago University of Wisconsin–Madison Occupation Climatologist...Organization...Distinguished senior fellow at George Mason University; Work on global warming


     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 9:10 am on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 1904

    Thanks Manuel. I get a little passionate about green tech, from bicycles to wave generators and solar panels to high efficiency gas engines. I firmly believe that green tech will change our future much like the computer did back in the early 60's through today. The problem, comparatively thinking is that we are still in the 50's for green tech. And with out a public sector embracing the change then it will stay on the fringe until we really need it and then everyone will say, "why did we think of this sooner".

    You know what I think would be cool, no, not wearing golf clothes all day long. But rather a counter like we have for the national debt but this one would count things like kilowatt hours green tech has produced, jobs created, and such. In Denmark Green tech is 3.1% of the GDP. In the US it is a dismal 0.3. in China it is a $60+billion dollar industry or 1.4%GDP. The US is $57billion.

     
  • Manuel Martinez posted at 8:53 am on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Manuel Martinez Posts: 641

    Watching Darrell and Kevin go back and forth was rather pleasing. Now I need more popcorn.

    By far, my favorite response:

    Kevin Paglia posted at 12:01 pm on Thu, Jun 16, 2011.
    "I'll be fair when the complaint and criticisms are based on logic, not fear."

    Kevin, we don't agree on everything but I like your reasoned responses and the way you present them.

     
  • Patrick W Maple posted at 8:30 am on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    Mr Verdegaal: Your story sounds much like mine...the old "thank you very much"...as they pat/push you out the door. The problem I found over my 14 years of sitting on Boards was the elitists in the heirarchy (not all were) did not know how to communicate with their Board and constituents. Consequently, they made decisions based on their beliefs and not the facts.

    If I had people working for me that could not climb a ladder without falling off, I would be looking to see why...the ladders or the humans...there may be other factors but the majority of questions would be directed towards those two. Questions WOULD be asked. Which is what I did and do.

    The point you make, that 50% of the graduates are having to take remedial courses in Eng and Math is true in a lot of schools. The question is never asked because the students are no longer students at those schools and the problem/failures fade away with time. No one challenges them.

    "that level of representation becomes a de facto conflict of interest, more than a benefit of experience. We need businessmen and women, professionals, and farmers to sacrifice their time to be on the board. The taxpayers, parents, teachers and most importantly students are “being ripped off.”

    I agree. Although I did serve with Sue Roberts and she pulled no punches with no one...not even me.

     
  • Jason Johnson posted at 12:54 am on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Jason Johnson Posts: 10

    Mr. Verdegaal, That is a very bold statement/accusation (spending of $37 million dollars on the Green Academy). I am curious as to where this information came from. Please post the reference from which you obtained this information. I can say with some authority that LUSD is NOT spending this kind of money on this one academy. I can also say with some authority that some school sites chose to apply for a federal grant which subsidizes the standard curriculum (Federal monies equal much less than nearly $40 million). In short, these are the normal CP courses already offered and required for graduation with the infussion of "Green" technology, tools, curriiculum, and practical applications. I hope this helps with your concerns some.

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 6:14 pm on Thu, Jun 16, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 1904

    Darrell, had a nice long continuation of the discussion including pointing out that I said at 8:57 that LUSD is spending too much on this but some spending is a good idea.

    Rather than go back and try to remember all that I said I'll just settle for a friendly HA HA I won!

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 4:49 pm on Thu, Jun 16, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    So I take it Kevin that you disagree with the letter that the money Lodi Schools spent during this horrific economic time is a poor decision... in other words, no matter what, there is no circumstance that this spending should have been postponed... if its for solar energy it had to be the right thing. If its green.. do it. "now"! Never later.

    If a report comes out that green is not viable now , it is automatically false... I have concluded that this topic has no need to be debated nor does it matter what the facts are... I think I am wasting my time... its better just to say... Go green!!!! and shut my mouth.

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 3:35 pm on Thu, Jun 16, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 1904

    In terms of me participating in a study, since I have no expertise on the topic other than what i have educated myself on then there would be no reason for me to be involved. BUT when I am in the fortunate position to have solar panels installed on my house I could participate in a cost savings study since it would be relevant to my situation.

    There are a few interesting reads about job creation for green tech like:
    http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=92372
    or this one about REAL results in Oakland.
    http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/go-local/green-collar-jobs-for-urban-america

    The more we can move away from oil and gas and towards solar, wind and wave green tech the stronger the US will be since we will not have to depend on the stability of outside governments get get the power needed. But I am also convinced the more involved the government gets the less likely it is for green tech to be any real cost savings in the long run.

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 3:20 pm on Thu, Jun 16, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 1904

    Darrell, to be honest when you were talking about being 'fair" what I was thinking was "courteous; civil: as in fair words." Don't know why, maybe I was in a rush this morning. But I will not be "fair" (my definition) about issues I am passionate about when others are trying to undermine that issue.

    Looking back you were probably thinking more of the "free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice" kind of "fair".

    "For you to dismiss the entire study because you think some of the data is tainted is not logical as well." I have to disagree with this one. If it is shown that the researcher put together false or misleading data (like saying there were only 50K jobs when there were in fact 122K jobs) in order to get the result they wanted then that study's conclusions are irrelevant. If major, key factors were dismissed because they hurt the desired outcome of the study then the conclusion of that study is tainted. Now while the whole of the study may be tainted the researcher manipulating the numbers to get the result desired that doesn't mean there is not some useful info in the study. In this case it clearly shows that too much government can hinder otherwise good programs (remind you of healthcare?).

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 1:27 pm on Thu, Jun 16, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Kevin stated....I'll be fair when the complaint and criticisms are based on logic...I would think a man of character would be fair no matter what. I am surprised that you state your fairness is conditional.. I did not expect that response.

    so what is real Kevin... can you give me a study that is accurate in which the study was not funded by government ... that the study was done by people that had nothing to gain financially,,, no conflict of interest. That would mean that you personally could not participate in any study because you are biased... For you to dismiss the entire study becasue you think some of the data is tainted is not logical as well.

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 12:01 pm on Thu, Jun 16, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 1904

    I'll be fair when the complaint and criticisms are based on logic, not fear. Green tech is new but, IMO, it is the only way to secure a healthy future for our grandkids. But if the growth is stunted because people put out reports with fictitious numbers and with a specific agenda it doesn't do anyone any good except the oil and power companies who would rather green goes away.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 10:41 am on Thu, Jun 16, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Kevin stated...In summary, the person doing the study recieved money from oil companies, works for a think-tank that debunks global warming, fudged numbers, failed to take into account certain factors like the housing ...

    Kevin... There are always two sides... just because it was funded by oil is irrelevent. Just as a vast majority of studies favoring green are funded by people and companies that have a financial connection and conflict of interest as well... both sides have so much money at stake that the results of the studies should be scruinized but not discounted... I think you should be more fair in your comments in people who criticise and complain the costs associated wiith green technology.

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 8:57 am on Thu, Jun 16, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 1904

    Ohhh, sorry, meant to spell check that first.

    Anyway. When it comes down to it, "green" jobs are a very realistic possibility for our kids. I'm not sure spending the money like LUSD does on the program is quite worth it, but some money to expose the kids is a good idea (as long as it is NOT overly bloated solar projects where someone had a beyond market market up and profit on it).

    If nothing else I would like to see an elective offered in high school that provides kids an exposure to the latest green techs, history of the tech and some basic engineering fundamentals of the green tech as well as the advantages and disadvantages. Exposing kids to "green" philosophies now could very well change the world for their generation.

    Think how much better the environment AND economy would be if cars just doubled their current MPG? What would most Americans do with half their gas money back in their pockets? Spend it on other things. How about houses with solar panels where they didn't have to spend the money on power bills? What would we do with an extra $200-$500 a month? That's right, spend it. And how many jobs would that money create?

    The problem is unless there is a catalyst for the change, Americans don't change their philosophies very quickly. I'd rather have the tech in place BEFORE the catalyst hits, not scramble after.

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 8:47 am on Thu, Jun 16, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 1904

    "it has been documented in Spain and now Sweden that there is a loss of 2.5 to 3 jobs for every one new “green job.” Look it up."

    I did. I also looked at what the study said and found a rather interesting rebuttal for it. http://greeneconomypost.com/debunk-spanish-study-green-jobs-1582.htm

    In summary, the person doing the study recieved money from oil companies, works for a think-tank that debunks global warming, fudged numbers, failed to take into account certain factors like the housing crash and ignored others all together like this from the Navarre region of Spain:

    – 1994: Unemployment at 12.8%, first wind farm erected.
    – 1998: Unemployment at 10%, 100 installed megawatts of wind power.
    – 2001: Unemployment at 6.8%, two R&D and worker-training centers are opened.
    – 2007: Unemployment of 4.76%, total of 100 new renewable-energy companies created, representing 5% of total GDP.”

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 8:46 am on Thu, Jun 16, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Paul... did you draw a conclusion why they ignored you?

    Great letter... it is hard to fight the system. Almost seems futile and a waste of time...

     

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