A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Monday, May 26, 2014

Guest Blogger: Norman Kurland, Draft 40

In visiting my parents over the past few weekends, since they worry so much about me, and since I refuse to pick up the phone to discuss my situation, I have had the opportunity to hear about an exciting development in the process of drafting a new political party platform. What began as strong objections to the name of the party, The American Revolutionary Party, led to my dad opening up the process, which led to a name change, and more significantly, to a more collaborative the drafting process, with more people getting more personally invested in the process, and a stronger document.

So without further adieus, I'll let my father and his fellow collaborators speak for themselves. ***
We're ready to roll with our long-awaited political initiative described 
in Draft 40 of the platform of the Unite America Party.

We are inspired by the challenge of Pope Francis to to address the roots 
causes of global poverty and end the "slavery of money." We thank 
America's founders, lawyer-economist-ESOP inventor Louis O. Kelso, ESOP 
champion Senator Russell Long, the Aristotelian scholar Mortimer Adler, 
Father William Ferree and all the members and counselors of the Center 
for Economic and Social Justice and students of Kelsonian binary 
economics for the bold ideas and common sense logic behind our work.

As Margaret Meade said: "Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, 
committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing 
that ever has."

We have a great team, many of whom have contributed to the language and 
ideas in the platform. The founders of this peaceful and just "Second 
American Revolution" have been meeting weekly for several months to 
launch a party committed to addressing the root causes for the cancer in 
the American economic system. As you know, politics today and for many 
decades merely offer superficial answers to address the symptoms of the 
cancer. We think the economic and social justice principles and Capital 
Homesteading monetary, tax and inheritance reforms in the platform and 
the links to underscored terms will heal the cancer in ways that benefit 
all Americans, from the bottom up.

Please take the time to read Draft 40 and scan the links. If you like 
it, spread the good news to all those you know who are seeking a 
"solution" to the economic problems faced by a growing majority of 
Americans, especially graduating college students who cannot find a job 
and the growing number of workers who are unemployed, underemployed or 
who have left the work force.

We welcome your comments. And let us know (if you were not yet active 
during our formative period) that you want to be involved


DRAFT #40, MAY 23, 2014


The Unite America Party is reaching out to all who are seeking, and are ready to work together for, a positive and peaceful “Second American Revolution” inspired by the founding principles of our nation. This revolution of ideas, we believe, can unite all Americans and, by example, all of humanity, and move us toward a more hopeful and just future. Our mission and agenda are fully consistent with the spirit of the original American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; namely, to create economic liberty, prosperity and justice for all.

Why start a new party? Because all of the existing political parties are addressing the symptoms, not the structural causes, of a cancer within today's economic system that is increasing the feelings of polarization and pessimism in many Americans and other people around the world. Through our Platform and the universal principles of economic and social justice it expresses, we seek to unite all Americans and existing political parties around the cure for that cancer.

We realize that some of the terms we use may be interpreted negatively by people coming from differing political philosophies. For this reason, we have carefully defined our terms — developed over the centuries and based on the writings of the great moral, religious and political philosophers — in presenting the logic and applications underlying our platform and program.

Ultimately, we believe that our Platform is more important than any party, including our own party. If any well-organized party or candidate wants to adopt our comprehensive Platform, they will have our support.


The Unite America Party derives its vision from the history behind the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776, which declares:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The vision of the Unite America Party is further supported by America’s Bill of Rights, without which the Constitution would not have been approved by founders such as George Mason. These first ten amendments to the Constitution set limits on the power of the Federal government vis-à-vis the people, reinforcing the civilization-changing ideal that the true source of power and rights rests with the people, not government.

The Unite America Party bases much of its agenda and fundamental principles on the largely ignored Ninth Amendment of the Constitution, which reads:

The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

This Amendment subordinates the coercive powers of government to the God-given sovereignty, freedom, dignity and “unalienable rights” of each human person. Such fundamental human rights include the right to own property, which forbids turning people into property. These rights are inherent in human nature and are based on each person’s capacity to reason and independently develop moral virtues, which America’s founders devoted their “lives, fortunes and sacred honor” to defend.

By reviving popular understanding and support for America’s founding principles, our Party will bring about a new unity among now divided Americans. We reject the premise that people are incapable of developing systems that would allow today’s politically polarized Americans to work together and thrive. What distinguishes this new party is our approach to uniting Americans through a non-partisan coalition on the politically suppressed issue of who should own and control the future wealth of our nation.

The commitment of Americans to “property” was best expressed in the Virginia Declaration of Rights authored by George Mason and approved on May 15, 1776 by the Virginia Convention “as the basis and foundation of government.” Section 1 of the Virginia Declaration’s Preamble reads:

That all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

Therefore, the question is, why did Thomas Jefferson leave out “property” when revolutionary thinkers like John Locke, Thomas Paine, John Adams and many others considered the preservation of private property rights as the highest purpose of government? Many believe that Jefferson, a slave owner, left out “property” as an essential founding principle in authoring the Declaration of Independence because he was not prepared politically to address America’s “original sin” — the institution of slavery.

Slavery violated the “unalienable” right of human beings to own themselves and other things that can help them become more independently productive to meet their consumption needs. Slavery dehumanized people by treating them as “things” whose bodies and economic productiveness would belong to and be totally controlled by the slave owners, not the enslaved victims.

America’s Civil War, followed by Abraham Lincoln’s successful promotion of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, ended the legality of the institution of slavery. Yet the current economic system of America and the world continues to perpetuate a more subtle form of slavery.

The Unite America Party seeks to emancipate and empower all of today’s “wage slaves,” “welfare slaves,” “charity slaves,” and “debt slaves.” We will lift all unjust institutional and legal barriers to equal opportunity for every citizen to become an economically empowered owner of productive capital (in other words, wealth-creating, income-earning assets), without taking away property rights over existing assets from today’s owners. We believe that a unified culture based on economic democracy, freedom and justice for all will inspire every child, woman and man to work collaboratively for the common good, which aims toward the prosperity and fullest development of every person.

The fundamental right of every person to become an owner is asserted in Article 17 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted on December 10, 1948 by the United Nations. Article 17 reads:

(1)   Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

(2)   No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

It should be sadly noted, however, that no nation in the world systematically promotes and protects this fundamental human right. The Declaration, in promoting the right to own, would have been strengthened by adding the language in the Virginia Declaration of Rights emphasizing access to “the means of acquiring and possessing” property.

The central feature in the platform of the Unite America Party is its proposed Capital Homestead Act. This proposal calls for a comprehensive restructuring of America’s economic policies to grow a sustainable economy in ways that create a nation of citizen owners. As all citizens gain equal access to the most effective financial means to become owners — through insured capital credit repayable with “future savings” — the growing dependency of most citizens today for their economic well-being on big government, big business, and big labor would be reversed.

The Capital Homestead Act is based on the Party’s “Just Third Way” philosophy. This philosophy embodies a morality, respect for life and human dignity, and sense of the common good that is more just than socialism (which institutionalizes envy) or capitalism (which institutionalizes greed). Because it is based on changing the system for financing future growth to equalize future ownership opportunities, Capital Homesteading will empower poor and middle-income Americans, without redistributing existing wealth from today’s ownership elite.

Through the democratization of the economic system and money power (now controlled by today’s super-rich in partnership with the political elite of both major parties) to all citizens under the Capital Homestead Act, our political democracy will be strengthened. With a more just foundation, the Unite America Party will attract authentic and responsible leaders to run for offices at all levels. From political independents and frustrated activists of other parties, the Party will seek out leaders who are willing to dedicate their lives to serving, teaching, and empowering others.

The Unite America Party will create, from the bottom up, the political order envisioned by America’s revolutionary founders of “one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.” In similar fashion Abraham Lincoln, viewing America as “the last best hope of earth,” offered ownership of America’s western lands to property-less citizens through the Homestead Act of 1862.

By combining land grants supported by land grant universities under this Act, our young nation was elevated to the top of the most productive agricultural nations in the world. In turn, our agricultural success freed former farm workers to shift their creative initiatives to industry, commerce, education and research, development of new communities and infrastructure and today’s advanced technology post-industrial frontier.

While the nation’s land frontier is finite, our capital frontier has no known limits. We therefore can open up economic opportunity for all citizens to become owners, without having to take away anyone’s private property rights or current accumulations.

We recognize and acknowledge that the principles set forth in the U.S. Constitution require a sound economic base upon which we can build a free and just social order. Without a fair and democratic economic system, society can never attain social justice. A government of, by and for the people can only be supported and sustained by a stable and just money system and a tax system that is fair and simple to understand.

As part of a movement respectful of civilization's most humanizing traditions, the Party can help overcome the so-called “clash of civilizations” by bringing out the best of all cultures in their common understanding of justice as a necessary moral framework for peace, freedom, and democracy. America, by creating a culture based on universal values and sound ideas, will serve as a model and beacon of hope for every nation seeking a more free, just, and life-enhancing future for all of its citizens.

The Unite America Party, following in the spirit of America's revolutionary founders, all of whom recognized that concentrated power is inherently corrupting, will promote economic democracy through equal ownership opportunities as a key to effective political democracy and freedom through the following measures:

q  Create Economic and Social Justice Guided by Just Third Way
Principles and the Logic of Binary Economics

Consistent with traditional principles of social and economic justice, the agenda of the Unite America Party will build a just, market-based model of economic democracy, resting on four policy pillars of the Just Third Way:

1.      Democratize Capital Credit and Ownership of Wealth-Creating, Income-Generating Productive Assets, in order to promote full and sustainable production, a life-enhancing environment, affordable shelter, democratic and transparent corporate governance, and rising property incomes for all. The moral omission of every economy on the globe is the total indifference of political leaders, academics, and the media to exclusionary barriers faced by ordinary citizens and the poor in gaining equal access to capital ownership and capital credit.

2.      Limit the Economic Power of the State, in order to end special privileges and monopolies, especially discriminatory access by already wealthy people to the money-creation and credit powers of the Federal Reserve System.

3.      Restore Private Property Rights, especially in corporate equity shares, by reversing laws and court decisions that deny capital owners: (a) full voting powers in corporate governance; (b) full transparency over management decisions; and (c) access to full profit distributions. Discriminatory double- and triple-taxation of corporate profits would be ended by full dividend payouts, with capital incomes taxed at the same rates as labor incomes. Furthermore, new capital would be financed by the issuance of new shares, to be purchased by workers and other new owners using capital credit. Capital credit would be insured to cover the risk of default and made repayable with the full stream of future profits earned on those shares.

4.      Restore True Free Markets and Just Trade as the most democratic means to determine just prices, just wages, and just profits. This would eliminate monopolistic, bureaucratic, or other coercive or unjust attempts to substitute centralized control over economic choices for the more democratic, more objective, more free, and more efficient laws of supply and demand.

q  End Wage and Welfare Slavery through Ownership Incomes for Every Citizen

We will reform American economic policy to shift from its present reliance on inflationary wages, job-destroying employer benefits, and incomes dependent on redistributing incomes earned by taxpayers. Instead, we will promote income independence for every citizen by accelerating investment in new wealth-creating, income-generating productive assets in ways that widely broaden individual capital accumulations, new jobs and property-based earnings, while improving ecological conditions for healthier lives and a healthier planet earth.

q  Expand Capital Ownership through Capital Homesteading

We will enable every child, woman and man from birth to set up a personal Capital Homestead Account at a local bank and receive at least $7,000 of Federal Reserve-created, interest-free, and insured capital credit every year throughout their lives to invest their annual Capital Homestead credit allocation in newly issued corporate growth stock of an expanding private sector, with such credit repayable entirely with future pretax profits derived from the added productiveness of the newly formed capital assets.

We will reduce Social Security, Medicare and welfare benefits to the extent property incomes from accumulated assets in a citizen’s tax-sheltered Capital Homestead Account replace that citizen’s dependency on incomes redistributed from other taxpaying workers and capital owners. This would radically reduce future deficits for Medicare and Social Security, a mounting burden on future generations the present value of which is now projected at $129 trillion, or a hidden debt of over $400,000 on every child, woman and man in today’s America. (http://www.usdebtclock.org/)

q  Lift Barriers to Universal Access to Money Power and Broad-Based Ownership of Newly-Created Capital Assets

We will reactivate Section 13(2) of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 to supply asset-backed currency through the discount windows of each of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks in order to: (a) enable local commercial banks to finance sustainable, non-inflationary regional growth of industry, commerce, and agriculture through tax-sheltered Capital Homestead Accounts, (b) de-monopolize the power of money, productive credit and ownership and decentralize ownership power to every citizen as a new right of citizenship, and (c) restore an elastic, asset-backed reserve currency to replace the present government debt-backed currency system. We will amend the Federal Reserve Act to democratize share ownership of each of the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks so that ownership rights and governing powers in each region’s central bank would be exclusively and equally shared by each one of its regional citizens.

q  Create a Radically More Simple and Just Tax System

We will control government spending through a national tax system designed to: (a) encourage accelerated rates of investment, sustainable green growth in urban and rural communities, productive jobs, and widespread personalized ownership opportunities; (b) eliminate the double- and triple-tax on corporate profits and job-destroying Social Security, Medicare, and other payroll taxes; (c) continue to fund all personal entitlements out of general revenues until reduced and eventually exceeded by capital incomes earned through Capital Homestead Account assets; (d) eliminate all individual income taxes below a “living income” exemption of $30,000 per adult and $20,000 per dependent, (or $100,000 for a family of four); and (e) balance the Federal budget and gradually repay old debt through a single rate tax on all personal incomes above the taxpayer’s “living income” exemptions.

We will enable all citizens to report their incomes from all sources on a postal card, while allowing corporations, as with subchapter S corporations, partnerships, and cooperatives, to avoid business income taxes by treating full dividend payouts and other profit-based distributions as business deductions, taxable only when received at the personal level. We will provide citizens whose incomes (whether from private charity or other sources) are below the poverty level, with a monthly voucher check to meet their basic subsistence needs until earned income from their Capital Homesteading dividends and labor incomes rises above the poverty level.

q  Avoid Concentrations in Wealth Transfers from One Generation to the Next

We will advocate reforms to the laws dealing with inheritance and gift tax policies that encourage the top 5 percent of wealth-holders to distribute broadly their capital accumulations from one generation directly to the next, or through tax-sheltered Capital Homestead Accounts of individual members of their families, workers, teachers, the poor and disabled, and other citizens with little or no income-producing assets. Recipients would be subject to a one-time individual income tax on the gift or bequest, applied to the portion of the gift or bequest that brings their personal capital accumulations (excluding their primary residence) above $1 million.


We, the members of the Unite America Party, American Revolutionaries of the 21st Century, stand for the protection and preservation of the following social ideals:

q  Harmony in Relationships Between Moral, Religious, and Political Institutions

The Unite America Party supports the power of people of faith to worship freely and to express their beliefs in the public square without coercive attempts on the part of government to diminish free expression. We will preserve the historic role of the various religions, deeply rooted in the founding of America as a revolutionary nation, to teach universal moral virtues. America’s unity, we also reaffirm, is based on the freedom of every person to pursue his or her own religious and spiritual life within a religiously pluralistic society.

America was founded not only to protect freedom of religion but expressly prohibited government from “establishing” any religion or religious faction to dominate other religions or the freedom of belief of other citizens. When addressing the role of religion in society, we will seek to promote an atmosphere of mutual respect among people with differing views. No religious authority should be placed in a position where, as in some other nations, a group representing one set of religious beliefs is granted the coercive powers of government to infringe on the religious or spiritual freedoms of any individual, whether or not he or she belongs to any organized religion.

q  The Family as the Basic Social Institution of Society

We will elevate the needs and concerns of the family (the basic social unit of any moral society) and the protection of children to the highest national priority in order to secure the advance of civilization. In the spirit of family unity, we will seek to eliminate the separation of family members through deportation of those who are not citizens, leaving other family members behind. Instead, we favor maximizing the opportunities of non-citizens to become citizens.

q  An Economic Agenda that Promotes Life, Dignity, Security, Property, and Freedom through Justice and Equality of Opportunity for Every Human Being

Our Just Third Way economic agenda would eliminate financial reasons for terminating a pregnancy, ending anyone's life due to costly health care for their illness, or limiting and impairing the life of any person. With economic security society can offer greater care, dignity and safety for mothers and their unborn.

By working together to heal the wounds of the past and provide full equality of social and economic opportunity, citizens will fulfill the ultimate promise of America's founders. Uniting under the fundamental principles of social and economic justice, Americans can work together to end poverty and eliminate social and economic injustices. This would radically reduce the economic roots of crime and terrorism, strengthen personal security, eliminate class barriers, and give birth to civilization's first model of a socially and economically just, free and prosperous society.

Our Party will promote equal respect and empowerment between every woman and man in all decision-making processes, from the level of the family to all levels of human interactions (including those of business, government, education, health, and other cultural associations) within communities, states, regions, nations and international bodies.

Culturally divisive issues (such as gun control, same-sex marriage and abortion) can be debated and settled in the marketplace of moral ideas, where economically free and independent citizens can use their powers of reason and persuasion to settle their differences, rather than through the coercive and at times oppressive powers of government.

q  Educational Choice and Responsibility of Parents

To achieve quality education for all, the Unite America Party will promote taxpayer-supported educational vouchers for all families (until parents earn enough Capital Homesteading incomes to exercise their own choices) based on the measured educational needs of each child. In that way the primary responsibility and adequate resources for exercising choice of schooling will reside with parents, not with any monopoly of educational services. With greater parental choice, government would still set minimum educational standards, while teachers, school administrators and teachers’ unions would have added incentives to collaborate with parents for closing the educational opportunity gap within the American educational system.

q  Lifetime Learning Opportunities for all Citizens

Since political democracy assumes and requires educated, informed, and independent-thinking citizens, we will create a cultural environment that enhances quality-learning opportunities for all citizens at all stages of their lives. This would include financial education necessary for participating effectively as an empowered citizen-owner.

q  Universal Health Insurance and Reduced Costs for Funding New Medical Advances

The Unite America Party will re-establish privacy and choice through one’s own personal health plan rather than through an employer. We will encourage the private sector to offer universal catastrophic health care insurance, reinforced with health care vouchers for health care insurance for those who cannot afford it.

Under the new health care policy, Capital Homesteading credit would be provided to health plan subscribers and health plan providers — the only two groups with a direct and immediate stake in quality health care. With access to low-cost capital credit and direct ownership opportunities, these two stakeholder groups could acquire control and become co-owners of comprehensive and competitive health care delivery systems. A restoration of power to stakeholders would help restore the sacred relationship between health care subscribers and providers that has been lost in many of today’s Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs).

Furthermore, we will condition all taxpayer-supported medical research on royalty-free licensing of all patentable inventions in order to stimulate competition among suppliers and reduce the costs of producing pharmaceuticals and other life-enhancing health technologies.

q  Discouraging Judicial Activism that Threatens a Just Constitutional Order

We will encourage the judiciary to return to the original intent of the founders in interpreting and ruling on the U.S. Constitution and discourage judges from making laws that should be left to elected legislators or to the people by referenda.

We will seek rulings from the Supreme Court that restore the original meaning to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments and reinstate the rights and powers of the people under the principles of natural law that govern right and wrong (which the founders understood and drew upon), and under the principles of English common law that existed prior to our nation’s founding. Among the fundamental rights of the people that were supposed to be respected and preserved under the Constitution was universal access to “the means of acquiring and possessing property,” a right which was expressly acknowledged under the Virginia and Massachusetts Declarations of Rights.


q  Offer More Creative and Just Approaches to Global Conflict Resolution

The Unite America Party will promote a new model of a democratic nation-state that promotes and protects freedom of religion and belief for all individuals, and bans control over the coercive power of the government by any organized religious body. These freedoms are guaranteed under the First Amendment of the Constitution, which opposes laws “respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” as well as the first two articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948.

Based on Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stressing the right to property as a fundamental human right, the new nation-state should not own land or other natural resources. Instead, every child, woman and man should share an equal, lifetime, non-transferable ownership right and share equally in the profits and governing powers for preserving, extracting and renting economic uses of all of Nature’s resources. Concerning America’s national parks, ownership rights would be transferred to a national Citizens Land Bank governed by citizen-owners.

With respect to human-created economic technologies, rentable space, wealth-producing systems and ideas, and infrastructure, each citizen should be guaranteed equality to secure future ownership opportunities and the monetary and legal means to acquire and earn personal property rights over new and transferred income-producing assets. Economic democracy would thus become the ultimate check on potential abuses of concentrated economic power by any level of government, as well as by those controlling private monopolies of wealth and economic power.

By promoting economic democracy and grassroots empowerment through equal ownership opportunities, the Unite America Party’s approach to global poverty eradication and conflict resolution will radically reduce global crime rates. It will also neutralize the influence of preachers of hate and violence who recruit economically powerless persons to enlist as suicide terrorists to use whatever weapons they can acquire to kill innocent citizens. The new nation-state would thus build a more unifying culture and a more just economic foundation for peace, prosperity and freedom in the West Bank/Gaza/Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, poverty-stricken countries, and other unstable countries or regions that breed global terrorists.

q  Promote a New Global Standard for Currency Exchange Rates in a Global Common Market to Avoid Outsourcing of Productive Jobs to Countries with Lower Labor Costs

We will convene a 21st century version of the Bretton Woods Conference. The first one was held in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in July 1944, convened by the United States with 43 other allied nations during World War II to plan the design of the post-war global monetary and financial order. Besides leading to the formation of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the conference decided to establish the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency for global trade.

Today many countries question that global decision, given the instability in the value of the U.S. dollar. (Over the last 70 years, the dollar’s value has declined by 4,000 percent when measured by the increased price of an ounce of gold, from $35 to $1,400 today.)

The Unite America Party supports a new global conference to promote a more free and just global monetary and financial order consistent with principles of the Just Third Way. Such a conference would call for adoption of a fixed global standard for measuring the value of an elastic and asset-backed global reserve currency.

Going beyond the problematic gold standard, such a fixed global standard could be based on the average global cost of producing a kilowatt-hour, while adjusting currency exchange rates for trade among countries so that they take into account the lowest market labor rates in each country. This would create a more level playing field in tradable goods and services and stem the exploitative outsourcing of jobs to low-wage-paying countries and reduce pressures for protectionist trade policies that hurt all consumers.

q  Expand Global Markets for Commercial Uses of Advanced U.S. Technologies

We will promote truly open global markets to enable America to sell advanced technologies and high-tech services that enhance civilized life for all, particularly for sustainable food and fiber production; clean fuel and renewable technologies; advanced information, health and agricultural systems; and consulting on Capital Homesteading financing strategies for turning workers and other citizens into shareholders within commercial, financial, industrial and agricultural enterprises.

Within all for-profit enterprises, non-profit organizations and government agencies, America should be introducing participatory and justice-based management and governance systems to increase performance and efficiency.

q  Help Accelerate Third World Development and Debt Relief

We will export the principles of the Just Third Way and the financial technologies of Capital Homesteading to all nations. This would democratize and accelerate economic growth in developing economies; reduce the economic and political pressures for individuals and family members to immigrate to other countries and leave behind their families, friends and cultures; neutralize and marginalize the preachers and teachers of global terrorism; systematize greater transparency to reduce public corruption; and build sustainable Just Third Way economies from the bottom-up.

We will cancel old debt of developing countries that resulted from borrowing funds that went to non-productive projects or that enriched corrupt political leaders and their cronies at the expense of their own people.

q  Promote Long-Term Stewardship of the Global Environment

We will create a ten-year equivalent of the Marshall Plan or the "Race to the Moon" to conduct research, develop, and finance advanced sustainable energy technologies (many of which have already been developed by NASA and other Federal agencies but are not yet commercially available) that reduce the rising levels of carbon dioxide and other pollutants created from continued use of finite fossil fuels. We will seek collaboration among nations and global organizations to better define the issue and present real world solutions that will not reward special interests nor cripple national economies.

We will seek to rapidly reduce America’s dependency on oil and fossil fuels by shifting to renewable sources of energy, so that existing reserves will not be depleted before a “safety cushion” is preserved in the ground to handle future emergencies within an increasingly more fragile and technologically dependent world.

We will seek to design and build technologically and environmentally sound public transportation systems in cities and metropolitan areas currently without them, which are convenient and safe for those seeking alternatives to the use of motor vehicles and traditional urban transit systems. This will reduce pollution and motor vehicle accidents, decrease the use of fossil fuels, reduce traffic gridlock, and allow non-drivers access to the advantages of city life.

q  Transform the United Nations and other International Organizations to Promote Economic Democracy as an Essential Foundation for Spreading Political Democracy Globally

We will use America's superpower status to bring together a coalition of free and democratic countries unified to support the Just Third Way. We will advocate among friendly nations the transformation or replacement of the United Nations as a global institution for advancing global peace, prosperity and freedom through global economic, social, and political justice. Such a global institution would promote peacemaking efforts that draw upon grassroots initiatives that make all people participatory shareholders in peace.

q  Improve National Security by Winning the War of Ideas

We will strengthen and transform the national security policy of America and its coalition partners by launching, unilaterally if necessary, a Just Third Way offensive in the war of ideas. To eliminate the breeding grounds for recruiting extremists and religious and other terrorists, this new national security policy would be immediately followed by more effective bottom-up assistance from United States and international development agencies for delivering ideas and strategies that encourage higher levels of economic and social justice for all citizens within poor and underdeveloped countries.

We will limit American military intervention as a last resort in winning the War on Global Terrorism. Instead, America should use its superpower military and economic status to lead other nations in advancing the efforts of global governance bodies and Just Third Way initiatives that promote the dignity and quality of life for all people. We should also supply, unilaterally if necessary, all forms of assistance to Just Third Way advocacy groups struggling to overcome genocidal dictatorships in all countries that harbor terrorists and other threats to global peace.

*   *   *   *  *  


Norm Kurland, Co-Founder, Unite America Party
Mail: P.O. Box 40711, Washington, D.C. 20016

Phone: (703) 243-5155 | Fax: (703) 243-5935

Nothing personal

With all the prestidigitation that accompanies big money, big data, and sub-group accountability mandates in education, perhaps the single most important educational outcome is becoming lost in the shuffle. What is happening to the relationship between students, parents, teachers, and their local schools? To what extent are core relationships in education, personal considerations, individualized needs, and local factors being undervalued with decision making in our schools exponentially tilting away from local, common sense, classroom level decision making, to the data-driven, centralized decision making of educational Czars? As “value-added” business metrics increasingly drive educational decision making, has the talking point in central offices become, “nothing personal, just business?”

Similar to the conflicts between big states, little states, and questions of inalienable rights that led to compromises at the Constitutional Convention, pressure is welling up along classic fault lines in education. Consolidation breeds natural efficiencies, especially the sharing of resources, particularly information pooling. In a world of tightening belts, arguments in favor of consolidation in education carry tremendous weight, backed with the force of numbers. Consolidation is thus an easy sell to taxpayers, but what are some of the disadvantages?

In my case, the decision of a respected local Principal and university professor to renew my contract was overruled by somebody in the central office. Despite my Principal’s argument that “the numbers speak for themselves,” that last year, if I had not been an effective teacher, my students would not have experienced the same level of success as they did with me, an argument supported by widely accepted research indicating that effective teaching is the number one predictor of student success, without any apparent input from my Principal or me, I am out of a job in a few weeks, and “not for performance reasons.”

Once state testing is completed after the first week in June, I will consult with my Principal and contact HR, because going forward, having personally invested so much, I need to know whether the door is closed for me in education and whether the time has come to cut my losses. I need to know who or what may be poisoning the waters. Until after state testing is completed, my singular focus needs to be preparing my students for their Math and U.S. History tests, because to do anything otherwise would be irresponsible.

What I wonder is how and when to break the news that, in all likelihood, I will not be returning next year? Yesterday morning, I finally mustered up the courage to tell my wife that my 1-year contract would not be renewed. Fortunately, we have options. She replied, “Damn, now I’ll probably have to move to Texas,” but what do I tell my students and fellow staff members? How will they respond?

How will the departure of one teacher affect the students and staff at one local school? The cost of pencils I provide: about 8 cents per pencil. Many of my colleagues argue that, in providing pencils without complaint, I am contributing to the learned helplessness of my students. By my calculation, on the other hand, I question the costs in terms of lost class time and public humiliation of my students, whose parents are not taking the time to monitor the educational needs of their own children? From a public relations standpoint, my ability to quietly foster positive relationships and communicate effectively with parents, both in writing, and in everyday conversations, as well as with students and my fellow colleagues, has allowed me to resolve countless potentially serious problems at the classroom level, without the need for administrative input. Because of my non-judgmental demeanor and unique level of personal responsiveness, I have become a trusted, reliable adult role model in a world where trust and reliability is too often in short supply.

My response to the mantra, “nothing personal,” is that nothing is more personal than a child’s future. As for me, I will probably be putting my home on the market and moving on.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The final leg

In The Art of Exceptional Living, Jim Rohn declared: "What's important is not what you get; what's important is who you become." As I enter the last leg of another school year, I have come to a deeper appreciation of the bitter and the sweet. Despite everything that has gone wrong in a quixotic pursuit where for 10 years my primary goal has been just to get a foothold long enough to acquire the skills and mastery needed to "make a difference" in the lives of my students, I know that my character has become more perfect because of the pursuit. I know that my performance has been validated at the school level. I feel that my investment in the community has not been a total waste, and have faith that the direction of a few lives has been changed for the better.

Knowing what I know now, I enter the final leg of my 10th and, what seems increasingly likely, my final year of teaching, with more gratitude than bitterness. Despite my shortcomings, I know that I have "made a difference," not in the spotlight, but quietly, behind the scenes, and without commendations. I know who and what I have become. No faceless administrator, from high upon on a hill, who would put my name up for a vote for non-renewal before a school board, without any conversation with me, in total disregard of the most current input of a respected Principal or any of his staff, can take that knowledge of who I have become away from me.

When I hold up my pewter 1984 Hoyas National Championship mug, which is typically filled with Jolly Ranchers or Lifesaver's mints, I warn students, "Never steal from the cup of success!" Perhaps my major mistake in entering the profession was a misconception that getting a foothold would be easy. When I entered the teaching profession in January 2003 as a substitute teacher, had I know what I know now, no way would I have ever had the courage to enter a field for which the barriers to entry seemed so low, but in reality have proved to virtually insurmountable for me. Financially, in terms of opportunity cost and actual dollars spent, my decision to enter the teaching field has been a "money pit," a financial black hole.

Having relentlessly brainwashed myself with messages from Rhonda Byrne's The Secret, The Courage to Live Your Dreams, Denis Whaitley's The Psychology of Winning, for 10 years I steeled my self against failure and rejection with a burn the ships behind me decisiveness of a Roman, and later a famous English King, a mindset held up as a model of courage by Napolean Hill and others. That failure is not an option modus operandi led me to "double down," earn a Master's Degree, and continue a high risk strategy of pursuing success in a profession that had rejected me, and mocked me my efforts at every turn with smug analogies comparing me to a dancer in "the dance of the lemons."

Safety and procedural compliance seems to be the guiding principle of big school systems that must protect themselves against litigation. Somewhere earlier in my career I probably violated some procedure, and likely some personnel administrator happily found some flaw in my paperwork. Perhaps, maintaining a blog, although I never identified where I worked, always changed names and dates, and consciously fictionalized every encounter, has been my undoing. I don't know. For whatever reason, I was accepted into a Master's cohort sponsored by the locality where I work, so I falsely assumed everything was okay. Apparently, I was wrong in my belief that all I needed to was to become an effective teacher, because discretion and human relations have gone the way of the dinosaur in an age of big data and faceless personnel decisions.

Since I am in need of closure, I will request an opportunity to meet with the top administrator face-to-face, so that I can look him in the eye as he explains the reasons why he decided to put my name before the school board for a vote not to renew my contract without even speaking to me, and possibly without input from my Principal and those who have evaluated my performance this year.

This new information, which I received by letter yesterday, might change my wife's decision not to follow her company which is moving to Houston in 2015. At some point, I need to tell her the unfortunate news, because bad news is best faced head-on. Whatever happens, I will do my best to face the coming storm with courage, and teach my final leg as if my life and legacy depends upon it, even if it means the risk-reward has become so skewed,  the reward is no longer worth the effort.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

What Students Need to Know and Be Able to Do: Line Plots and Circle Graphs


Last year at this time, I had taken over a classroom from a master teacher who had been forced to go on bed rest far earlier than anyone had anticipated. Since this was Kari's second child, she had already, with the collaboration of a particularly strong team, had two years previously packaged her unit packages in a way that her methods could easily be copied, with certainty about what students needed to know and be able to do, and precisely aligned activities and materials. Kari's routines were easy to follow, or relax in some cases, because students knew what to expect. Kari had instilled essential problem solving habits. The students came to class prepared to learn.

Students knew how to "show their work:" on every problem, they identified keywords, drew diagrams or wrote a definition, and efficiently listed procedures exactly as Kari had instructed them. As an added benefit, Bill Specter, an ESOL specialist teamed with Kari, and Bill had a knack for helping students visualize essential vocabulary. I think it was Tony Robbins who once repeated, "when the student is ready, the master will appear,"  and having been nearly driven out of education on more than one occasion, teaching as if my life depended on it, which it did, I was prepared to take Kari's classes to levels nobody expected, myself included. Largely because of extreme differences in our personalities, and my relentless sense of desperation, last year, I was able to pull an unusual number struggling students out of the margins, some Kari had probably already written off, which is why Dr. P was willing to give me an opportunity to at least teach another year. A 93% passing rate with that population was a result nobody had expected. This year, with an even more challenging population, I will be lucky to get a 50% pass rate.

Kari is in the process of selling her house and is moving with her family to Jacksonville, which will be a difficult loss for our 6th grade math team to overcome next year. In our math department team meetings this year, I have not done much real collaborating, as the collaboration has mostly gone in one direction, in my case, with me being the beneficiary. Kari has reminded me all year that it is best to do "a few things well," which, although that directive was never really discussed last year, with my business background, I understood the value of focusing on doing a few things exceptionally well.

One of the fortunate things that happened last year was that, although the units were already constructed, I quickly ran out of written plans and was found I needed to make my own adjustments. Without outside interference, I was able to adjust pacing and repeat concepts over and over again in ways that I would not have been able to do otherwise. Without outside interference, I was also able to streamline. Needing to save time because learning new procedures always takes me so much time, I quickly eliminated any of Kari's management procedures that I felt were unnecessarily "anal." A relentless focus on "the bottom line," or closing the deal, colored every decision, the smartest of which was to spend several weeks focusing on teaching students how to interpret and construct circle graphs, line plots, and other numerical representations.

Will I have a role next year? Despite the letter I received announcing the tautological message that my one year contract would not be renewed, Dr. P has provided a number of direct hints and clues recently that indicate that he wants me to return and will be offering me a new contract. Almost none of my students passed state-testing in 5th grade. I am feeling better about my chances to significantly improve upon this number.

Ali, for example, had the lowest score in the entire 5th grade. By the eye test of work, Ali stands a strong chance of passing his state testing in Math, which would represent at least a 150 point gain. Based on feedback from a teacher who was scoring alternative assessment binders for US History to 1865 last weekend, Ali's social studies binder was viewed favorably. Dr. P asked me to think about using my summer to prepare for setting up binders for students for next year. He also told me that he thought there would be a place for me in the summer program. Last week, Mrs. English dropped in to observe as I prepared students for an assessment on Coordinate Points, and noted how well I was preparing students for their assessment, but with a note that I needed to work on keeping quiet and letting students process once I had gotten students working.

As the year has progressed and Special Education duties have subsided, my classroom instruction with my self-contained classes has become tighter since I have had more time to prepare in advance of launching units. With Kendall and Pedro routinely out of my class serving both in-school and out-of-school detention, and with a boost from end of year scheduled remediation blocks, the bulk of my behavioral distractions have been removed, and dealing with Kendall and Pedro prepared me for all of my easier cases. Administrators routinely acknowledge that I have some of the toughest classes in the school, but as I have learned from experience, the most difficult cases make me better.

Since, because of the pacing guide, the entire 6th grade rushed through Fraction, Decimal, and Percent conversions, not surprisingly the data shows that the entire 6th grade is weak when it comes to performing this critical skill. With Data, Statistics, and Probability being the final units before we shift to testing preparation, and since I know from looking at the testing blueprint that these final units will be heavily emphasized in state testing, I know what to do to prepare my students for the few things they need to do well: repetition, repetition, repetition of circle graphs, line plots, and other representations of data, which will give students a second look at skills they missed from earlier in the year.

Looking at the national educational data available on the link posted above, a stubborn 30% achievement gap exists between between typical students and the students I serve. Thus, realistically, the minimum standard I need to achieve is to enable a 60% passing rate for state testing, which at this point is a realistic target. I will be pounding circle graphs just like I did last year. Why mess with success?