Why Philly Teachers Should Support Reopening Pennsylvania

by Christopher Paslay

School funding greatly depends on money from the state, and the state greatly depends on a functioning economy.

Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania State Senate passed a bill that overrode Governor Wolf’s lockdown order, which if signed, would allow all businesses to reopen within federal safety parameters.

According to The Hill, Senate Bill 613 “would require the governor’s office to align with federal guidelines in determining which businesses will be allowed to reopen during the pandemic, allowing all those that can safely operate with mitigation strategies under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency guidelines.”

As Jan Murphy reported on Penn Live:

Republican senators who supported the bill argued it would provide transparency and clarity in determining which businesses can be open and require them to operate in a safe manner. They said Wolf’s list of life-sustaining businesses and accompanying waiver process was confusing, chaotic and showed favoritism.

Senate Bill 613, coupled with Senate Bill 327, would give county officials the power to decide when businesses in their county would reopen. A look at coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania shows that the outbreak in the state resembles the outbreak in the nation, and that the “coasts”— Pittsburgh on the west and Philadelphia on the east—are serving to handcuff the entire state, much the same way New York and Washington are handcuffing the entire country.

In fact, the entire middle region of Pennsylvania has been minimally affect by COVID-19, yet the businesses in these 50 counties are being suffocated because of the outbreaks in a handful of “coastal” counties. Obviously, life is precious and even a single death is one too many, and any reopening of a business should be done safely and with caution. (With that said, there’s no direct evidence that lockdowns are definitively working, and government lab tests show that coronavirus is destroyed by sunlight and high humidity, which could make the virus a thing of the past very soon.)

Still, Governor Wolf plans to veto Senate Bill 613, holding firm to his lockdown order. State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine wrote in a letter, “While the governor and I are as eager as anyone to begin getting people back to work, doing so prematurely will only increase the spread of the virus, further lengthening associated economic challenges, while also placing more lives at risk.”

But the businesses in the 50 counties between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are not at risk, as the data shows. COVID-19 cases are minimal here, and deaths are almost nonexistent. What is on the rise, however, are depressionsuicideopioid abuse, and the life crushing realities of losing everything through the closing of businesses (there have been 1.2 million unemployment claims in PA since March 14), and loss of all income. People are losing their livelihoods, and can no longer feed their families.

Unfortunately, the issue of reopening the economy has broken along political lines, with free-market conservatives calling for a safe yet expedited lifting of the lockdown, and more socialist-minded liberals advocating a prolonged closure, insisting that, as one Facebook meme read, If you prioritize the economy over saving people’s lives, then you never get to call yourself ‘pro-life’ ever again.

This crisis doesn’t have to be one-size-fits-all, and you needn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, to use a cliché. Opening the economy is also saving lives, as noted above, yet to do so recklessly doesn’t help anyone. Going back to business as usual overnight isn’t advisable, but neither is cancelling all festivals and large events for the remainder of 2020, as New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell recommends.

Which is why Philadelphia schoolteachers should support reopening Pennsylvania safely yet expeditiously, and why they should call for Governor Wolf to sign Senate Bill 613. This isn’t putting profit over people’s lives, but striking a balance between a suffocating total state lockdown and a willy-nilly return to business as usual. The Philadelphia School District will undoubtedly be hurt financially by the crumbling economy, and as Dr. Hite has acknowledged in his April 13th“Message from the Superintendent,” there is the potential to lose significant funding in the coming school year, which is why he’s already put a hiring freeze on central office positions.

The contract between the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and the Philadelphia School District is up on August 31, 2020, and the longer Pennsylvania remains locked down, the tighter finances will be four months from now. This doesn’t only affect things like teacher salary and benefits—which will undoubtedly be impacted by the prolonged shutdown—but will also affect our education community for the coming school year, and the availability of funds for things like lower class sizes, books and technology, building renovations, and other important resources.

Philadelphia School District funding greatly depends on money from the state, and the state greatly depends on a functioning economy. When the economy tanks, we all tank, which is why the squabbling between political parties must end, and a common goal of safely opening Pennsylvania must become the priority—and it must happen sooner rather than later.

Thank You, President Trump, For Your Leadership and Strength

Your exemplary crisis management skills are helping save lives and keeping our economy afloat.

Dear President Trump,

Schoolteachers, parents, and the education community in Philadelphia as well as across America would like to thank you for your leadership and strength during these trying times. Your tireless work to find treatments for COVID-19 — which has involved the fast-tracking of the very promising Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine — may have just brought us the medicine we need to stop the spread of the virus and bring our country back to business as usual. Your push for a $1 trillion stimulus package, which will help businesses stay afloat and Americans pay their mortgages and student loans, is also a great help. So great, in fact, even your biggest political opponents are praising you, like NYC’s mayor Bill de Blasio, and Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.

COVID-19, which is basically a nasty strain of the flu, comes straight out of Communist China, and is communist in nature in that Soviet-style propaganda — in coordination with the oppression of freedom — allowed the virus to evolve and spread and come into America. Thank you, President Trump, for restricting air travel from China way back in January, despite protests from folks who called the ban xenophobia; this decision, as acknowledged by Dr. Anthony Fauci, was “one of the things we did right,” and helped contain COVID-19, saving countless lives.

Unfortunately, some national media along with local Philadelphia politicians and journalists are using COVID-19 as a way to continue to slander you despite your best efforts, purposefully misrepresenting your statements on the “Chinese virus,” claiming you’re spewing racist and xenophobic hatred against Asian Americans. On March 19, 6ABC wrote a story that harassment against Asian Americans in Philadelphia has increased due to the association with COVID-19, suggesting your use of the phrase “Chinese virus” has provoked these anti-Asian behaviors. Instead of clarifying that you used the phrase to keep people safe in the future by holding China accountable for their mishandling of the virus — which allowed it to spread all over the globe as the Chinese government tried to cover its tracks — journalists like those at 6ABC and other political leaders have suggested you are attacking Chinese Americans.

This is clearly not the case. As The Atlantic wrote in a story headlined, “China Is Avoiding Blame by Trolling the World”:

The evidence of China’s deliberate cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan is a matter of public record. In suppressing information about the virus, doing little to contain it, and allowing it to spread unchecked in the crucial early days and weeks, the regime imperiled not only its own country and its own citizens but also the more than 100 nations now facing their own potentially devastating outbreaks. More perniciously, the Chinese government censored and detained those brave doctors and whistleblowers who attempted to sound the alarm and warn their fellow citizens when they understood the gravity of what was to come.

Your use of the phrase “Chinese virus” is clearly done to hold Communist China accountable, which is why the attempt by the Philadelphia media and others to twist it into racist and xenophobic hatred is inappropriate and disingenuous. For these behaviors I apologize.

Thank you President Trump for your strength and leadership during this time of crisis. All of us will soon be back to business as usual, as not only are treatments like Chloroquine rapidly developing, but Americans are now putting things in proper perspective, and understand life must go on. We will overcome both the medical and economic setback of COVID-19, and with your continued help, our country will be stronger and wiser as a result.

Sincerely,

Philly Teachers for Trump

Trump is Still Odds-On Favorite to Win Re-Election. Wall Street Agrees.

by Christopher Paslay

Fake news stories and threats of impeachment have had minimal impact on President Trump’s chances of re-election in 2020.    

As the old saying goes, money talks, and B.S. walks.  And despite the bovine excrement pouring out of Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, and all the pundits, politicians, and swamp creatures who have done their damndest to lie, spy, twist, and sling mud at President Trump in order to destroy his chances at re-election, Vegas odds-makers and Wall Street power brokers know the truth: Trump is still the prohibitive favorite to win in 2020.

According to the website “The Lines” which tracks the American sports betting industry:

Donald Trump opened at even odds of +100, or even money. This means you would need to wager $100 to win $100 (and $10 to win $10). Since the Democratic debates have begun, Trump’s odds have improved as high as -120. This means you would need to wager $120 to win $100.

As of September 25th, with the launch of Pelosi’s impeachment inquiry and all the negative news coverage surrounding Trump’s Ukraine phone call, betting odds have barely moved.  The popular Bet365 and Betway both have Donald Trump at +110 to win re-election, and Odds Shark lists Trump at +120.  In contrast, major sports betting sites list Elizabeth Warren between +275 and +300, and Joe Biden between +550 and +650.  

Not that odds-makers are perfect.  In 2016, Trump was listed by most betting sites at 500/1. According to “The Lines”:

When Donald Trump declared for President, he was priced at 500/1, or +50000 on betting sites. This means that the implied odds gave Trump a 0.2% chance of winning the presidency.

So, if you saw Donald Trump listed as 500/1, a moneyline wager of $1 winning would return $500. If you see it priced at +50000, then a $100 bet would return $50,000 profit.

For the 2020 Presidential election, Donald Trump is the “odds-on” favorite on some sports betting sites, where he’s priced at 1/1 or +100.

Financial investors are confident in Trump as well. In March, a poll of Wall Street insiders showed that over 70 percent expect him to win re-election in 2020. As stated by CNBC:

“Most expect Trump to win in 2020, but there’s still some nervousness around the event,” Lori Calvasina, RBC’s head of U.S. equity strategy, wrote to clients. Sixty-seven percent “of our March 2019 survey respondents believe that Joe Biden is seen as the most acceptable Democratic candidate by the stock market for the White House. No other candidate got a significant number of votes.” . . .

Presidential elections can have important implications for financial markets based on what traders believe the elected candidate will prioritize while in office. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied more than 450 points in the two days following Trump’s election in 2016 and jumped nearly 8 percent into year-end as investors grew confident in future corporate tax reform and big spending.

Currently, even after the launch of the impeachment inquiry by Democrats and the horrendously biased coverage by the mainstream press, Wall Street still believes Trump is safe.  As reported by CNBC on September 25th:

Investors shouldn’t worry about what a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump could mean for his current term or even his reelection chances, Wall Street investment banks advised clients.

But what they really should be worried about, Washington policy analysts said, is what the impeachment inquiry means for a potential trade deal with China and an already agreed-upon deal with Canada and Mexico. Investors also can forget about any new legislation like a drug prescription policy, they said.

Although Democrats are willing to both cripple Americans financially and hinder their health insurance as a means of hurting Trump, it appears this strategy isn’t working.  In fact, it may be having the opposite effect: Trump’s re-election is now more important than ever, especially if Americans want to steady the economy, keep and reform private health insurance, and engage in fair trade with China and North America.  

But money does have a way of talking.  And right now, most of the cash is coming in on Trump.       

Spreading MAGA Love in the City of Brotherly Love

by Christopher Paslay

Today, my wife and I made Philadelphia great again.

September 21st was a glorious day in Philadelphia: Sunny, 83 degrees, no humidity.  To celebrate, my lovely wife and I hung out in Center City, visiting the Art Museum and then making our way down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to Logan Circle, stopping off in Love Park and finally ending up in Old City, home to Independence Mall and America’s most historic mile.  We did so as unofficial ambassadors of President Trump, breaking out our red Keep America Great hats for pictures along the way.  Below is a photo journal of our wonderful day in the beautiful city we call home.

Stop #1: The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Here we posed for a selfie, in front of the place that Rocky Balboa made famous.  Some useless trivia about Silvester Stallone: he attended high school in the same neighborhood where I currently teach (Northeast Philadelphia).  

Stop #2:  Logan Circle

When William Penn named his city Philadelphia (Greek for the “city of brotherly love”), he envisioned what he called a “greene country towne,” structuring it on a grid with four parks equally spaced throughout. One of these parks is Logan Circle, located at the base of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (which was modeled after the Champs-Élysées in Paris).  Here I paused for a picture by the Swann Memorial Fountain.    

Stop #3: The LOVE Statue

For the bicentennial celebration in 1976, Robert Indiana lent Philadelphia a large aluminum sculpture of his “love” image. After failing to secure a sale with the city, Indiana’s gallery in New York took the statue back, causing an uproar. F. Eugene Dixon, a local businessman and then chairman of the Philadelphia Art Commission, purchased the work and donated it to the city, and soon it was reinstalled in the Plaza, now affectionately referred to as LOVE Park.

Here we stopped for a picture with the iconic image, waiting in the crowded line like two tourists.  After taking a picture for the family in front of us (a couple and their teenage daughter), we asked them to reciprocate.  The couple acknowledged our Trump hats and said, “We’re down with that,” and my wife handed her iPhone to the daughter, who proceeded to snap a dozen pics while a rather large, culturally diverse crowd gathered in the line behind us, watching us pose and spread our MAGA love.  The father than shook my hand, cracked a huge smile, and said, “The Phillies are having a tough year, especially Harper.  Good luck.”  I thanked him and we went on our way.

Stop #4: “I Love Philly” in LOVE Park

We walked over from the iconic LOVE statue to the very touristy life size “I Love Philly” sign.  Here we did a repeat of the last picture: we took a photo for a family in front of us, who appeared to be visiting foreigners, and then asked if they could return the favor.  A young Arab man nodded, and snapped a series of pics with Deb’s iPhone, as a long line backed up and people watched and waited.      

Stop #5: Independence Hall

Yes, the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were both signed here.  We’re talking some big names between the two of them, folks like Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, John Adams, Samuel Adams, James Madison, and George Washington.  God Bless these wise and courageous men.  

Stop #6: Old City Souvenir 

Deb wanted to buy a souvenir for a relative from California, so we stopped in Old City Souvenir at 3rd and Market while we were in the neighborhood.  We walked in the front door and immediately Deb pointed out the Trump 2020 hats, which were above the Rocky T-shirt I was looking at. But the Trump swag didn’t stop there. Behind the counter were Trump bucket hats, key chains, and bobble heads, amazingly enough.  Who knew Old City Philadelphia was so into spreading MAGA love?

Young Trump Voters Are Making Campus Great Again

by Christopher Paslay

Voters age 18 to 29 are one of two demographics nationwide that may hold the key to Trump’s re-election.

Trump’s push to win young voters is in high gear. On Monday, Trump’s re-election campaign launched a “Make Campus Great Again” program at the University of Akron. According to the Daily Wire:

The program kicked off at the University of Akron on Monday, with more than 50 students from that school and Cleveland State University, Walsh University, and Kent State University gathered at an event to show support for Trump and get trained on registering voters for the 2020 election. The program is managed by Trump Victory, a joint entity between the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, working with the Ohio Federation of College Republicans. The two groups teamed up to launch a Trump Victory Leadership Initiative throughout Ohio colleges and universities to train and recruit campus activists for the president’s re-election efforts.

Support for Trump on college campuses is growing, with Millennials leading the charge.  According to the latest issue of Newsweek:

But the more than a dozen young Trump supporters who spoke to Newsweek were firm in their commitment to the president and clear about their reasons. They don’t consider Trump racist and reject that label for themselves as well. They’re sick of “cancel culture”—when critics on social media call for a boycott of someone who has said or done something deemed offensive—and political correctness. “We’ve had it shoved in our faces all day every day, in school and then from the pop culture,” Isabel Brown, a graduate of Colorado State University, told Newsweek in July. They don’t share the attraction to socialism that seems to be felt by many in their cohort. And Trump’s unfiltered personality delights them.

They see themselves in the role traditionally played politically by the young: They are the rebels, the non-conformists, willing to stand up for what they believe in opposition to the establishment. Only this time, the establishment—on campus and in the broader society—is a culture that demands lockstep obedience to what Brown calls “far left ideas.” For whatever reason, she says, most people her age “aren’t rebellious, and aren’t even particularly thoughtful. They feel the need to adhere to a politically correct ‘progressive’ agenda.” In this environment, she argues, “true rebellion is simply to say, ‘I disagree.’ I think conservatives were expected to be quietly polite, and we expected people would be quietly polite in return. Now we’ve learned that unless you boldly fight for what you believe in, the culture and the country will look very different.” . . .

The Trump campaign won 37 percent of the youth vote in 2016 in a campaign that was shambolic and underfunded. It will not be this time. Trump 2020 has already raised more than $125 million and the campaign is making a concerted effort to target young voters in battleground states. Parscale, who headed Trump’s digital media effort in 2016, says this will happen via social media, his forte, but also with “traditional boots-on-the-ground type organizing.”

In both the virtual and real-world efforts, the campaign will have considerable help from outside groups—support it didn’t have in 2016. One of them is Turning Point USA, founded seven years ago by Charlie Kirk, then 18. TPUSA has a 501c4 (tax-exempt, social welfare organization) sister group, Turning Point Action, which also runs Students For Trump. The group organizes what Kirk calls “conservatives” on college campuses across the country, but “conservative” in this sense means Trump supporters. The group has more than 1,000 college chapters and claims more than 40,000 members. Kirk will lead them next year in an effort that he acknowledges is based on the 2012 “Obama for America” campaign targeting young voters. The Turning Point effort will be as much about “clip boards and tennis shoes” on campus as it is about social media, in what Kirk vows will be an “unprecedented” effort to muster the pro-Trump vote on campuses across the country. “There’s never been a pro-GOP effort at this scale before, targeting young voters,” he says. “This can be done. We will make a difference.”

It’s Time to End MAGA Hat Discrimination

by Christopher Paslay

(Note: A version of this article was published September 11thon the American Thinker.)

Diversity of thought is just as important as diversity of culture. 

National Book Award finalist Rebecca Makkai wants me to stop wearing my Phillies hat.  Not because Makkai is from Chicago and the Phillies are battling the Cubs for the wild card, but because my Phillies hat is red, and too closely resembles President Trump’s MAGA hat.   

“Is anyone else made really uncomfortable these days by anyone wearing any kind of red baseball cap?” she recently tweeted, imploring “normal people” to refrain from wearing red hats because they are “making people scared.”   

As someone who’s worn both a Phillies cap inside Wrigley Field in Chicago and a MAGA hat in Philadelphia, I can tell you Makkai has it backwards: the fear is clearly being felt by those wearing the hats, not the other way around.

Not that Makkai has probably ever worn a MAGA hat, or been threatened by a Trump supporter.  Other than in the pretend world of Jussie Smollett, Chicagoans aren’t usually confronted by angry MAGA folk.  Makkai’s request that all red hats be removed most likely stems from her own concept of diversity, and how conservatives fail to fit the bill.                  

The irony here is thick. When it comes to race, religion, gender and sexuality, cultural gatekeepers like Makkai demand uncompromising inclusion.  Yet when it comes to political affiliation, these same advocates become incredibly narrow-minded. Diversity of thought doesn’t seem to be nearly as important as diversity of culture, and as a free and democratic society, this is cause for concern.

Makkai is employing a classic form of political affiliation discrimination, a kind of bigotry that silences opposing points of view via a two-part process.  First, the party out-of-favor with cultural elites has its positions maligned or misrepresented, a technique that contorts differing beliefs into hate-filled ideals that pass as reality.  Second, every person in the out-of-favor party is judged and stereotyped by these same public distortions, enabling the rest of society to discriminate against them without being accused of intolerance or bigotry.  

For example, Trump believes in merit-based immigration over a random lottery, and feels that refuges seeking asylum should come through legal ports of entry, therefore he and his supporters are “xenophobes” who hate all immigrants.  Likewise, Trump supports Israel’s right to exist, scrutinizes countries with high populations of Islamic extremists, and sanctions countries like Iran who openly support terrorism, therefore he and his supporters are “Islamophobes” who hate all Muslims.

What if you only support Trump on things like taxes, abortion, energy or trade?  Doesn’t matter; you’re still a prime candidate for harassment.

In his new book, R.I.P. G.O.P., leading Democratic pollster and political strategist Stanley Greenberg gleefully predicted “the death of the Republican Party as we’ve known it,” prompting New York Times Opinion columnist Michelle Goldberg to pen the article, “Dare We Dream of the End of the G.O.P.?” In her piece she called the Republican Party a “foul agglomeration of bigotry and avarice that has turned American politics into a dystopian farce,” fantasizing not just about their defeat but about their complete and total destruction.  

Those who aim to shut down debate don’t want diversity, they want orthodoxy.  As George Orwell writes in 1984: “Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”  

Which is why Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) tweeted the names and employers of dozens of San Antonians who made donations to President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, and why “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing demanded the Hollywood Reporter publish the names of actors planning to attend the Republican National Committee fundraiser in Beverly Hills.

And why Reza Aslan, HBO producer and former CNN host, called Trump and his supporters terrorists, insisting that “the MAGA hat is a KKK hood,” and that “this evil, racist scourge must be eradicated from society.”

And why Zack Ford, a writer for Think Progress, stated “you can’t both wear a MAGA hat and claim to love thy neighbor,” stereotyping millions of kind, good-hearted Americans in a single sentence. 

Unfortunately, our nation’s anti-discrimination laws protect Americans based on race, religion, gender and sexuality, but not political affiliation.  In other words, you can’t throw someone out of a theater or restaurant for being black, female, gay, or Muslim, but it seems you can run them out on a rail for wearing a MAGA hat.

“And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said at a rally in Los Angeles last year.  “And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

I’m going to continue to wear all my red hats, despite the objections from people like Rebecca Makkai. And our nation’s equality laws should be expanded to protect the right to do so. 

No, Youth Sports Aren’t Being ‘Hijacked’ by the Wealthy

President Donald Trump talks to his daughter and advisor Ivanka Trump as they watch former NFL star Herschel Walker throw a football during the White House Sports and Fitness Day event on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 30, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

by Christopher Paslay

A rich array of sports programs and college grants are available to any child of any background who wants to take advantage of them.

According to Derek Thompson at The Atlantic, meritocracy is killing high school sports. Not cellphones, or video games, or father absenteeism, but wealthy families hijacking athletics at the expense of the poor. Thompson writes:

If you want to understand how income inequality and opportunity-hoarding by the rich can combine in toxic ways to hurt the less fortunate, you could look in all the usual places—elite colleges, housing policy, internships.

Or you could look at high-school sports.

There is no need to read past these opening lines, as Thompson has given you everything he wants you to take away from his article: America’s rich are so greedy that their “opportunity hoarding” has now tainted even high school sports, killing participation and further disenfranchising the poor.  The fact that participation in high school sports hasn’t declined, and that affluent families do not kill athletics doesn’t seem to concern Thompson in the slightest; he simply contorts reality to fit around his grievance-driven narrative.

“In the 2018–19 school year, the number of kids participating in high-school sports declined for the first time in three decades,” Thompson writes, drawing on information from a recent survey. What Thompson doesn’t mention, of course, is that in the 2017–18 school year, participation in high school sports was at an all-time record high, with 7,980,886 students joining at least one team.  And although the 2018–19 school year was down slightly, it was still the third-highest ever, with 7,937,491 participants.  So when Thompson says meritocracy is killing high school sports, what he means is that there was record participation in high school sports over the past two years.   

“The most obvious reason for the decline of high-school sports is that football, the Friday-night-lit mainstay of the high-school experience, is withering on the vine, likely due to fears about injuries and head trauma,” Thompson goes on to state in his article.  “Many schools cannot field a full team and have resorted to a six-on-six version, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). America’s most popular sport on television could be close to a full-blown crisis.”

Football is “withering on the vine”? Seriously?  

Football is by far the biggest and most popular boys high school sport in America, with 1,006,013 students participating last school year—nearly double that of boys outdoor track, which was second with 605,354 participants.  Similarly, Thompson’s claim that “many schools cannot field a full team and have resorted to a six-on-six version,” is ridiculous.  According to the NFHS, 14,247 high schools still offer 11-player football—which is an increase of 168 from last year; data from the past two years indicates that the average number of boys involved in 11-player football on a per-school basis is a whopping 70.  As for America’s most popular sport on television?  The NFL made over $16 billion in revenue in 2018, far from a “full-blown crisis.”

Although injuries and head trauma have had an impact on participation in high school sports, technology has had an ever bigger impact.  Thompson briefly considers this in his article, but quickly dismisses it, instead turning his focus back on his meritocracy theory.  “Kids from homes earning more than $100,000 are now twice as likely to play a team sport at least once a day as kids from families earning less than $25,000,” he states, citing Tom Farrey, the executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program.  But a closer look at “State of Play,” Aspen Institute’s research report analyzing the trends of scholastic sports, shows that family income is only a small component of a very complex issue, and that technology does have a significant impact on sports participation.  

“We need to realize that the youth sports model is being disrupted in the same sense that the newspaper industry, cable TV, books and so many other sectors have been,” states Chris Marinak, Major League Baseball’s executive vice president, who is involved in Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program.  “What we need to do is redefine the value proposition and show that sports is a much better experience than digital entertainment for kids because it provides so many benefits from the standpoint of health, social interaction, and leadership skills development.” 

But Thompson downplays such information in the report, choosing to frame sports participation as a social justice issue:

The deeper story is that the weed of American-style meritocracy is strangling the roots of youth sports. As parents have recognized that athletic success can burnish college applications, sports have come to resemble just another pre-professional program, with rising costs, hyper-specialization, and massive opportunity-hoarding among the privileged.

Basically, Thompson argues that specialization in youth sports and obsessive competition in high school sports—where affluent parents remove their children from neighborhood teams in order to get them involved with high profile clubs as a means of gaining college admission—sucks the talent from the general population, thus decimating youth organizations and leaving the poor kids to rot.  This, of course, is nonsense.  The problem facing youth organizations is not a lack of talent produced by rich kids joining clubs, but a lack of participation in sports by communities themselves.  

The breakdown of the nuclear family has had an enormous impact on sports at all levels, especially father absenteeism. Dads don’t need to be rich to teach their sons or daughters how to catch a ball or swing a bat, and they don’t need to be privileged suburbanites to volunteer to coach or assist at practice, or to line the field or help run the scoreboard at games.  

Dads do, however, need to be there.  Tragically, especially in poor and minority communities, dads aren’t there.  Interestingly, as the percentage of African American out-of-wedlock births have drastically gone up during the past several decades (from 24% in 1965 to 77% in 2019), the number of black Major League Baseball players have drastically gone down (from 20% in 1975 to only 7% in 2019).  Which is why Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program has initiated their “Parent Engagement Campaign.”  As mentioned in “State of Play” study:

Project Play 2020 members recognize the need to empower parents as agents of change, from the grassroots up. It’s why Aspen partnered with Target to create the Project Play Check-lists—10 questions parents can ask themselves, their child and local sport providers that will help build an athlete for life. 

The study also called for community involvement, concluding that neighborhood engagement is vital for youth sports participation. Which is why, as noted in the study, President Trump nominated new members for the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition, asking Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to develop a national strategy to increase youth sports participation, including developing metrics to gauge participation and physical activity.

As with technology, Thompson refuses to acknowledge the significant impact parents and the community have on high school sports, and how their lack of involvement hurts overall participation.  

To conclude his article, Thompson brings up college sports scholarships, stating: 

You might think most of that scholarship money is going to help kids from poor families who couldn’t otherwise afford college. That’s not the case. In 2010, just 28 percent of Division I basketball players were first-generation college students, meaning they likely came from low-income families. Five years later, that figure has fallen by nine percentage points.

What Thompson doesn’t mention is that rising standards at the NCAA mean many poor kids aren’t academically eligible to accept scholarship offers, and that a growing black middle class—which have the resources and enthusiasm to get their children involved in sports at a young age—put impoverished kids at a disadvantage, too.  

Still, college scholarships, which gave out $3 billion in funds, aren’t the only ticket to an education. Pell grants, which are reserved for low-income college students, serve over 7 million families, and gave nearly $30 billion in aid in 2018—ten times as much as division I & II athletic scholarships combined.          

Meritocracy is not killing high school sports.  Far from it.  A rich array of sports programs and college grants are available to any child of any background who wants to take advantage of them.  The real issue facing high school sports participation is not “opportunity hoarding” by the rich, but a lack of interest and engagement in youth sports by parents and communities.      

Not that Thompson would want to accurately present this information to his readers. That would be called journalism, which would get in the way of his wonderfully deceptive social justice advocacy.      

Meet the Deplorable Choir

by Christopher Paslay

The MAGA-loving trio praises America and encourages Trump supporters to stand proud.    

Let’s face it — it’s not easy to support President Trump in 2019 America.  Often times Trump and his supporters are bullied into silence by celebrities and the mainstream media, who regularly mischaracterize the President and his agenda in an attempt to shut down any and all debate on the issues.  Yet CJ, Val, and Linz — the three Texas moms who formed the Deplorable Choir — will have nothing of the sort.        

As reported by the Daily Dot:

On social media, the Deplorable Choir has become a minor-league celebrity with songs that include choruses like “it’s a real tough life if you say you are a liberal” and “we stand with our General Flynn.” But even if you don’t agree with their conservative messaging, it can be tough to get their music out of your head.

Their tunes are chipper but also confrontational. In their song about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, they sang “Mother Zucker, let’s have a word/come meet me out back/with my can of whoop ass,” set to a twanging banjo. Their songs are always political, and they have a knack for grabbing the attention of some of the celebrities in the pro-Trump circles of the internet.

It’s not every day that the right makes fun of the left, as this sort of thing is deemed off limits by our liberal entertainment industry; most comedians and late night hosts save their ammo for conservatives only.    

But who is this trio?  As reported by the Daily Dot:

In a conversation with The Daily Dot, C.J. LeRose . . . painted the group as just a couple of mothers looking to have some whole-hearted Christian fun.  LeRose is a stage name and she declined to give out her real name, citing concerns for her safety from what she calls “the keyboard warriors.” She says that the Choir are “sisters and friends who all live by each other,” but showed some humility, saying “we’re not a music group … we’re not a real band. We just started doing this because we love Trump.”

The group began in March 2018 following the Oscars when LeRose says she was annoyed “after being lectured by celebrities.”  She claims that the first song came to her while she was on the way to her child’s baseball game. And that first piece blew up. She recalls that it had 130,000 views overnight. . . . Their name of the band, obviously, is a direct dig at Clinton’s mocking of Trump supporters as “deplorable.”

The Deplorable Choir now has over 90K followers on both Twitter and Facebook, and a YouTube channel with 30K subscribers and over 20 songs.

Consumer Confidence Still High As Trump’s Economy Remains Stable

by Christopher Paslay

Despite recession hysteria from the left, Trump’s economy continues to chug along. 

The left’s attempt to push the three R’s – Russia, racism, and recession – has some financial talking heads wondering if Trump’s strong economy may be showing signs of weakness.  But the Consumer Confidence Index tells a different story.  According to the Conservative Treehouse:

The efforts of the Wall Street pundits and financial class to talk the American consumer into creating a recession is failing. The Consumer Confidence Index remains at historic highs as U.S. workers/consumers are confident in their economic position. Yes, Main Street USA is optimistic about current and future expectations.

The Consumer Assessment Index, a measure of the percentage of consumers claiming business conditions are “good”, increased from 39.9 percent to 42.0; and the Present Situation Index is now at its highest level in nearly 19 years (Nov. 2000, 179.7).

These are all key indicators because the U.S. consumer is the engine of our economy.  The U.S. consumer generates over two-thirds of our GDP activity through purchases.  One of the strengths of the U.S. economy is our internal self-sufficiency; approximately 80 percent of all consumer goods created in the U.S. are purchased in the U.S. by U.S. consumers [we are not reliant on exports to sustain growth].

A strong jobs market means higher wages and benefits; those higher wages lead to more purchasing…. the purchasing demand leads to more manufacturing, competition and innovative product creation… which leads to more job openings, which creates upward pressure on wages.

The U.S. economic growth is a strongly self-sustaining process so long as the consumer is optimistic about the future.

In short, Americans should remain positive about the economy, which is stronger than the left wants you to believe.  

Letter to Sharif El-Mekki, Principal of Mastery Charter School — Shoemaker Campus

Dear Sharif El-Mekki,

I recently came across your blog post headlined, “Philly Principals, Stop Supporting Trump,” where you publicly called out my father (Dr. Charles Paslay) and me (Christopher Paslay), for being racists and supporting “anti-Blackness.”  Before I respond to your writing, please allow me to correct some misinformation in your original post.  You state that my father, Dr. Charles Paslay, is somehow associated with “Philly Teachers For Trump,” a Facebook page and blog that I founded in July of 2018 and currently host.  For the record, Dr. Paslay has nothing to do with either, and the “familiar name and picture” you refer to in your post are both me; although I am over 20 years younger than my father, I do look a lot like him, so I’ll forgive you for mistaking me for a 69-year-old man when I’m only 47.  Still, you really should go back to your original post and correct the record, assuming you are an honest writer and journalist who cares about getting the facts straight.     

Because we have ties to the same neighborhood (my father was born and raised in Southwest Philadelphia, and I grew up in Southwest Philly and Yeadon), and we teach and mentor the same kids (my father taught and coached at Bartram for 36 years, and I’ve been teaching and coaching in the Philadelphia School District for over 22 years), and because ultimately, we are good, caring people who’ve dedicated our lives to helping our students succeed, I won’t take it as an insult that you suggested my father and I are racists, and that we support “anti-Blackness,” whatever that term is supposed to mean; I understand you are an activist in addition to being a principal, and that you are only trying to protect the people you care about.

But truth be told — and I say this respectfully — you don’t know anything about either one of us, so how could you possibly call us racists?  You’ve never observed any of the classes we’ve taught, and don’t know our passion for teaching, or how we’ve worked our butts off to raise scores on the PSSA and Keystone exams.  You’ve never seen us coach, or witnessed our athletes proudly bring home Penn Relays medals or PIAA State Championships in track, or watched either of us counsel our students in times of crisis, sometimes acting as a surrogate parent when these kids had nowhere else to turn.  

And speaking of parents, you’ve probably never spoken to the mothers and fathers of our students and athletes, who’ve consistently thanked us for doing all we can to help their children go to college or learn a trade, or to become responsible young men and women ready to enter the world as critical thinkers.  I’d bet you’ve never spoken to administrators, or coaches, or PFT leaders who’ve thanked us for our dedication (Jerry Jordan wrote me a personal endorsement when I published my first book on education reform in 2011, titled, The Village Proposal: Education as a Shared Responsibility).  I bet you haven’t read the dozens of Inquirer commentaries I’ve written over the past 15 years, articles fighting for the rights of Philadelphia teachers and students, especially ones from neighborhoods like Southwest Philly.      

In summary, you know nothing about my father and me.  Yet you publicly call us racists, and claim we support “anti-Blackness.”  Incredibly, you state the following: 

This situation is not new to us. We have police, teachers, and other public anti-servants who earn a living on the backs of Black kids despite hating them and their roots.

Wow, that’s a pretty serious thing to say about two teachers and coaches who’ve dedicated their lives to helping their students, many of whom are African American.  With all due respect, Sharif, you don’t know us well enough to publicly insinuate that my father and I “earn a living on the backs of Black kids despite hating them and their roots.”  

But I think we both know why you’ve drawn these very serious and very slanderous conclusions: because I’ve dared to publicly support President Trump, and host a platform for others to do the same.  That’s my crime: supporting the President of the United States.  This is intolerable to people like you, who demand diversity of race, gender, and sexuality, but not diversity of thought.  This is exactly why I started Philly Teachers For Trump: to serve as a refuge for those who support our president.  This is America, not a one-party system like North Korea or the old Soviet Union.  People should be free to support the candidate of their choice, not be bullied into silence or called names.  If you go back to the Philly Teachers For Trump Facebook page and blog and read my posts, you’ll see examples of all the positives Trump has done for America (or at least you’ll see a perspective on things you might not be familiar with). Trump is not a racist or a bigot or a white supremacist, and neither are his supporters.  If you take the time to look past the daily misrepresentation and mischaracterization of the man for five minutes, you’ll see he cares about ALL people.  

Trump believes in merit-based immigration over a random lottery, and feels that refuges seeking asylum should come through legal ports of entry, therefore he’s labeled a “xenophobe” who hates all Latinos; Trump supports Israel’s right to exist, scrutinizes countries with high populations of Islamic extremists, and sanctions countries like Iran who openly support terrorism, therefore he’s an Islamophobe who hates all Muslims; Trump cut taxes which stimulated the economy, energized the stock market and created jobs for all Americans, yet somehow he’s a greedy one-percenter who cares only about the rich; Trump reformed the criminal justice system via his “First Step Act,” giving many incarcerated minorities a second chance at life, yet he’s a racist white supremacist who doesn’t care about black lives; Trump deregulated the energy sector and is fighting to implement clean fossil fuels — bringing back the coal industry and saving small American towns — yet he’s an evil climate destroyer; Trump believes in restricting late term abortions, so that when a baby is born alive doctors should be required to save its life rather than end it, therefore he doesn’t respect women’s bodies or their right to choose; Trump was the first Republican president to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month (and is currently fighting to end the criminalization of homosexuality in dozens of countries in Africa and the Middle East), yet he’s a homophobe who hates gays; Trump loves America and all it stands for, putting the interests of its people first, yet he’s a “Russian agent” who’s in bed with Putin.  

I’m not going to debate Trump’s policies, or try to correct all the misinformation about him, but at least know this: he’s done more for African Americans in two years than Obama did in eight.  Just ask Candice Owens, or watch the video The Young Black Conservatives of Trump’s America.  Or better yet, ask BET’s founder Robert Johnson about Trump (he supports him).  Or Isaac Newton Farris Jr. and Alveda King, Dr. King’s nephew and niece, about Trump (they both support him).  Or Rev. Bill Owens, president of the coalition of African-American pastors (they all support Trump).  Or Dr. Ben Carson, or Kanye West, or Tim Scott, or Herman Cain.  Or Alan Keyes, Larry Elder, Stacey Dash, or Thomas Sowell.  Or Clarence Thomas, Col. Allen West, David Webb, or Ward Connerly.  Or Roy Innis, Niger Innis, Shelby Steele, or Sheriff David Clarke.  Are all these proud Trump-supporting African Americans “anti-Black”?  If Trump is such a toxic, bigoted, white supremacist, why do all these successful, exemplary, and God-loving Blacks support the man? Perhaps there’s another side to Trump all his critics refuse to see?

Again, I’m not here to sell you on Trump.  However, I do believe that in America, people should be free to support the president without fear of reprisal or threats of having their reputations destroyed.  If you don’t agree with Trump or his policies, fine.  But this movement to stereotype all Trump supporters as racist and bully us into silence is wrong, and educators of your experience and stature should understand this, Sharif. Over 108,000 people voted for Trump in Philadelphia in 2016, and they can’t all be bigots.  Neither can the parents and students in Philadelphia who back the president. Shouldn’t their voices be heard? Trump’s style is brash, and some of the things he says are insensitive, but he’s hardly the monster everyone makes him out to be.  Most Trump supporters are good, caring people.  And we want the same things you do: freedom, equality, and a decent quality of life for all people of all backgrounds.  If you really want to make a difference and grow as a person, try this exercise: shake hands with a Trump supporter and actually get to know him or her.  You might be surprised by what happens.  

God bless you, Sharif. May you find peace in the world and may your life go well.

Respectfully,

Christopher Paslay