Sunday Missive – June 26, 2022. The World is Flat – or Not

discovery 2 36928-Marcel-Proust-Quote-The-real-voyage-of-discovery-consists-not-in

Imagine living at a time in history when everyone just knew the world was flat. When it was proven by the early pioneers that it was not, the reactions may have varied from who cares, so what, where can I buy a ticket to see the new continents, to let’s hang the messengers.  It may have taken over 100 years for the discovery to be considered common knowledge.

  • The modern-day equivalent of a discovery that can open up new worlds is the awareness and understanding that all things vary, no two people or things are ever exactly alike, and that groups of things from a constant system of causes tend to be predictable, e.g., If you, a group, an industry, a county, a nation, always do what you always did, on average, you will usually get what you always got. This discovery (1924) was classified during WWII, and although de-classified after the war, remains a well-kept secret and hidden in plain sight. Estimates are that this knowledge will not be more common until around 2036.
  • So what? Outcomes are the result of actions that are accomplished through processes and systems. Systems determine the majority if not all of the results. To increase the probability that any changes will result in “systemic” improvement requires that variation is reduced. This requires a basic knowledge of common and special causes of variation and tampering.
  • Within the county, examples of “tampering” include discussions and complaints about roads and bridges, taxes, spending, human rights, quality of government, drug abuse and overdoses, suicides, poverty, food security, et.al., that lead to solutions that do not result in systemic improvements.
  • A community approach to supporting the application of better methods is provided through the Brown County Leader Network (BCLN).

Link to more background information and context – Success Through Quality 

Grades in School: Joy in Learning

grade reportcard

Updated: June 26, 2022

W. Edwards Deming’s contributions in the area of quality management were recognized by Fortune magazine as being among the 20 that have shaped the modern world of business and by U.S. News and World Report as one of nine turning points in history. The top turning point was identified as “The Apostle Paul, whose preaching and eloquent writings led to mass acceptance of Christianity.”  Deming has been referred to as the “father of the third wave of the industrial revolution.

Deming identified that individual performance rankings and grades in school as among the deadly diseases of management.

Is the use of Grading in Schools Effective and Fair?  Spoiler alert. The answer is No.

Test your knowledge of Variation?  Who are the top performers?  Spoiler Alert. You will likely get this question wrong also.

Local StatisticsBrown County Community Corrections: Suicides, Substance Use Disorder (SUD), overdoses, adverse childhood experiences, parental incarceration rates, children in single-parent households.  Would trend data indicate common or special causes of variation?  

Background information and context: Success Through Quality – Overview, History, Relevance, Application of the quality improvement principles, methods, and basic tools.

Further Explanation on Grades  – W. Edwards Deming Institute

Exciting new podcast series: Deming in Education with David P. Langford! Over a series of 6 short episodes David and Andrew talk about implementing “Joy in Learning” in classrooms and school systems – not just “why” but also “how.”

Spoiler: one proven tactic is to replace A-F grading with “met/exceeded standards” and “needs more help.” https://bit.ly/3NdkrVR

The first 2 episodes are available now, with the next 4 dropping on Wednesdays.

Joy in Learning: Deming in Education with David P. Langford (Part 1)

How to Track Progress: Deming in Education with David P. Langford (Part 2)

Community Corrections

Information provided by Joshua Bales, Executive Director, from Community Corrections. Feb 22, 2022.

a. Per DMHA, IN ranks 42nd across all 50 states & DC for higher prevalence of mental illness and SUD and lower rates of access to care

b. IN was ranked 18th for Adults with SUD and preliminary data showed a 47% increase in overdoses in 2020 compared to 2019

c. 17.4% of adults in Indiana reported 2 or more Adverse Childhood Experiences, compared with 14.8% of the U.S. Population

d. IN was ranked 7th for the highest percentage of adults reporting serious thoughts of suicide

e. IYS CRAFFT scores indicated 16.7% of BC Youth age 15 and 21.6% of BC Youth age 16 are at high risk for having a SUD
f. IYS data for BC Students shows that the percentage of Youth who had considered attempting Suicide was higher than both IN & US rates for students in grades 9, 10, 11, & 12
g. IYS data for BC Students shows that the percentage of Youth who made a plan about attempting suicide was higher than both IN & US rates for students in grades 9, 10, and 12.
h. 2020 IYS (only 6th grade surveyed for this ?) showed parental incarceration rates almost 2 times as great as IN youth- (40%) indicated parents had served time in jail and another 12.3% indicated they were not sure. 23.9% of all BC students are identified for special education (IN average 15.9%). BC graduation rate 82.3% (IN 88.25%). US Census report (2019) showed 35.3% of BC children lived in a single parent home.
i. pursuant to a Youth Survey from the Communities that Care, high numbers of BC Youth experience risk factors that can lead to problem behaviors (including A/D use, delinquency, teen pregnancy, violence), & high numbers of BC Youth present with low protective factors against problem behaviors.
j. BCSO had 15 overdoses reported in 2021, 3 resulting in death. 23 doses of Narcan were administered (that BCSO is aware of). Records from Jail commander indicate 147 incarcerations related to A/D in 2021 at BCLEC.
k. BC Health Dept reported 4 suicide deaths in 2020 Annual Report, and 5 more deaths related to opiate intoxication or overdose. BC just experienced a tragic juvenile suicide less than 2 weeks ago
Joshua Bales
Executive Director
Brown County Community Corrections
201 Locust Lane- Upper Level
Nashville, IN 47448
Office: (812) 988-7343
Cell: (812) 340-2467
Fax: (812) 988-8451

2024 Presidential Elections

June 22, 2022Trump has too much baggage Michael Brown on GOP race: ‘I would rather have a less abrasive and reckless candidate’ By Michael Brown, WND

    • Last December, I wrote an article titled, “Trump Knocked the Door Down; Let Someone Else Walk Through It.”
    • “But now that he has broken the mold, thrown out the old rule book, and forged a new path of leadership, it will be best in 2024 for another conservative leader with backbone and conviction to take the lead. Trump simply brings too much collateral damage with him (and, I remind you, I voted for him in 2016 and 2020).”

Council Meeting Notes. June 20, 2022, 6:30 p.m.

decision makingCOUNCIL MEETING NOTES.  June 20, 2022. 6:30 p.m.

Inflation and policies for justifying pay increases are leading to a cascade of higher labor costs in the county.  Inflation is a tax that affects ALL citizens.

Higher part-time  Labor Costs.  The ceiling for a part-time hourly wage was raised to $16.00. It was in the 9-10 range. The purpose was to compete for workers in this pay range. 

Cost of Living. County employees have routinely received an annual cost of living increase – it was 3% last year.  This year, many county employees received a $2.00 an hour premium pay increase that will be paid over the next two years.  These were employees that worked with the public during Covid.

Pay Grade Increases. County Departments had until the end of June (or the June council meeting) to justify any increases in pay grades and salaries. The council then reviews and tentatively approves pending a final review and approval during the budget hearings. Judge Wertz provided a justification for increases for three positions.  She identified the work requirements and pay comparisons with surrounding counties.

Policy – Pay Comparisons. When he was on the Council, Keith Baker led a 2018 salary study that compared pay levels with counties of similar sizes to Brown county. He also added in the benefits package. The county was at the top of the list for pay and benefits. The Health Insurance benefits for example are probably among the best in the country.  Link to the study below.  County employees criticized the study after Keith’s term ended. They want to compare salaries with the surrounding and larger counties that have much larger budgets. Larger budgets lead to higher salaries, more competition for positions, and likely higher education and experience requirements.

Exceptions. Over the past year, county truck drivers and sheriff deputies received increases in pay and salaries. Turnover and a cost/benefit analysis justified the higher pay. These are positions where specialized training and certifications are similar to the positions in other counties.

Better Practice. Pay Levels – Workload Analysis.   In determining pay, there are standard practices that rely on more than just anecdotal information.  The process starts with an accurate job description that should identify the essential functions, tasks, and responsibilities. The required skills, knowledge, and abilities should align with state laws and regulations for the respective area. Tasks are broken down followed by time-motion studies. The education and training requirements are also identified to determine needed educational levels. This process also supports contracting out functions that become even more cost-effective with improvements in technology.

2018 Salary Study https://independentvotersofbrowncountyin.com/2019/07/18/2018-staffing-study/

School Information Session – Proposed Referendum

bc schoolsUpdated: June 23, 2022 

Brown County Matters – Facebook post.

June 22, 2022. LETTERS to the Editor – Against.  Do not ‘burden’ taxpayers with another referendum by Jim Hahn

June 14, 2022. I attended the information meeting regarding the tentative/proposed referendum at the June 14, 2022, session.  Copies of the handouts are provided below:

I have also followed the topic at the Brown County Democrat, history, trends, and have conducted additional research. See School Tax Increase (Operating Referendum). 

The last referendum was passed in 2016 by more than 1,000 votes or 59% of the vote. There was a strong campaign by the proponents of the tax including guest columns, Letters in the Democrat, and yard signs. 

Who can vote?   IC 20-46-1-16 Qualified voters  Sec. 16. (a) The individuals entitled to vote in the referendum are all of the registered voters resident in the appellant school corporation.   (b) An individual who changes residence from a location within a school corporation to a location outside of the school corporation less than thirty (30) days before an election under this chapter may not vote on the public question. [Pre-2006 Recodification Citation: 6-1.1-19-4.5(c) part.] As added by P.L.2-2006, SEC.169. Amended by P.L.109-2021, SEC.76.

State Funding of Schools. In FY20-21, Total K12 education investments accounted for 50.2% of the state general fund appropriations.

Justification. The need to maintain or increase the revenue from a referendum appears to be the same as it was in 2016.  By state law, the proposed increase must be based on need vs a want (a nice to have). Indiana Code 20-46-1-8 allows the governing body of a school corporation to adopt a resolution to place a public question on a ballot if the governing body determines that the school corporation  …

  1. cannot carry out its public educational duty unless it imposes a referendum tax levy or
  2. that a referendum tax levy should be imposed to replace property tax revenue that the school corporation will not receive because of the application of circuit breaker credits.

Meeting this standard (see 1) implies a thorough analysis of alternatives. This would include the identification of the costs, benefits, risks, and the respective risk mitigation strategies. Put another way, what specifically will be the effects of not passing a new referendum?

The criteria used to make the decision should clearly reflect that the tax levy is a critical need for the school to carry outs its educational duty.  Should a criterion include the inability to meet the guidelines from the state regarding student-teacher ratios? 

Decision-makers. The voters decide on the quality of the analysis and the school’s proposal for a tax levy.  “In the case of the school corporation’s determination to have a referendum, there is no statutory remonstrance opportunity that is separate from the referendum itself. Whether it succeeds or fails depends on the results of the vote.” – DLGF

Economic Situation. Unlike in 2016, the economic situation is a little different this time around. Record inflation, gas, and food prices. The stock market is experiencing significant losses affecting 401Ks and retirement income.  Inflated home values and high demand for homes along with annual property assessments have resulted in yearly property tax increases for many if not most residents. The cost of utilities continues to increase.  In 2017, a statistically valid survey identified that the county has a low to moderate-income level of 53.1%. This combined with many residents with fixed and declining incomes combined with social security not keeping pace with inflation, reinforces the obligation to validate that continuing a tax increase is the best option.

County Taxes. The county has one of the highest income tax rates in the state, doubled it in 10 years, has maxed it out, and has been relying on annual property tax increases and borrowing to fund the county government.   

Continuing the tax vs taxes decreasing. The increase in revenue from the referendum is about a million a year. Typically, a selling point on renewing a tax is that it is about the same, or in this case, maybe it could be a little higher, e.g, residents will not see an “increase.”  Seems every time a tax increase is proposed in the county, it is always followed by comments like “it’s just a few dollars or just pennies a day.”    

National Issues.  Covid policies and mandates and school shutdown policies may affect some voters’ desire to vote Yes to a tax increase.  Associations and teacher unions supporting policies such as Critical Race Theory (CRT) may also undermine the support for public education in general.

    • National School Board Association (NSBA): ” Following the National School Boards Association letter sent to the White House comparing parents to domestic terrorists, the nation’s largest teachers union sent a letter to social media companies encouraging them to crack down on “propaganda” surrounding Critical Race Theory (CRT) and other education concerns raised by parents.” (1)
      • National Education Association (NEA).  “Despite NEA claims that there are unfounded beliefs regarding “graduate level courses about racism,” in U.S. public schools, the union approved a plan to implement CRT in 14,000 school districts across all 50 states in July.” (1)
      • Four days after the NSBA letter was sent, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memorandum that called on the FBI to “use its authority” against parents who threaten or use violence against public school officials. (1)

Process and Due Diligence on behalf of all citizens. My interest as a citizen is in the decision-making process. Has the school corporation performed its due diligence?  When was it identified that another referendum may be needed? Was this identified by the strategic plan? What actions were or have been taken? Does the analysis of alternatives support and justify the need?

Systemic Decline in Enrollment. The school has experienced a systemic decline in enrollment since about 2008/2009 and has successfully managed to do the more or same with less revenue. This includes applying for and receiving grants from a variety of sources that have led to improvements in the quality of education. 

Population projections for the county indicate that the population peaked in 2020 and will continue to decline. Brown County has one of the older demographics in the State.

Demographics. Given demographic projections, what is the best case, worse, and the average case regarding enrollment over the next few years?   What is the state guidance regarding student/teacher ratios?  How many classrooms and teachers will be needed at the projected enrollment levels? Correspondingly, how much infrastructure (number of schools) will be needed?

In summary, the School, through an analysis of alternatives, need to make the case that the new tax levy is needed. Voters can assess the quality of the analysis in support of their respective decision.

BCRSD – Meeting Notes: June 14, 2022 – Presentation of the Strategic Plan

quality cost time scope

Brown County Matters – Facebook Post

BCRSD (Brown County Regional Sewer District). Board members: Clint Studabaker, Mike Leggins, Phil LeBlanc, Richard Hall, Matt Hanlon

Public Presentation BCRSD Wastewater Strategy and Sep 2021 Watershed Study.  Public presentation (will streamed) tentatively scheduled for Juy 18, 2022. Time to be determined.  Available locations at which a representative of the board will be available for questions is at Helmsburg, Spunica, Van Buren schools.

What’s new?

    • The justification of need for expanding and forcing sewer service has been based on speculation regarding the lack of records for septic systems and age of homes. There is no specific documented evidence of failing systems. This has been confirmed by the two previous BCRSD Presidents.  A well-designed and maintained septic system has an indefinite life per EPA and Presby.
    • Some of the water samples have indicated that “some” of the E.Coli is human-caused indicating a failing system. However, the number of systems that may be contributing to the problem was not identified. A large percentage of systems would justify the investment of tax money and support the scope of the wastewater strategic plan.
    • Note that the Proposed County Wastewater Plan was developed by “government appointees” – not elected officials. This plan is not aligned with the County Comprehensive Plan that does have to be approved by “elected” officials after holding the required public hearings.
      • No information has been provided regarding whether or not the plan and study would be pre-briefed to the Commissioners and Council at a public meeting.
    • Note also an RSD will not need the approval of elected officials to force their plan onto the citizenry. An RSD also has the power to invoke eminent domain that may be needed to get the required easements (estimated at 190 in the Bean Blossom area). However, without a valid need, residents may have a legal base to fight the granting of easements if so desired. Residents can also contract for their own water samples to validate findings.

Helmsburg – Lake Lemon.  There is a valid and documented need for sewer service in the Lake Lemon Area and for upgrading the Helmsburg Plant.

Additional Information 

Link to the Strategic Plan:  I found the following statement in the Plan to be misleading: “The primary source of E.coli has been found to be from humans.” (Ref: Executive Overview, p vi). Per the watershed study, the primary source IN SOME SAMPLES has been found to be from humans.

    • The modeling information was interesting: ”Only if 100% of  documented septic systems are failing do they contribute a significant volume of E. Coli to the entirety of Brown County.” (Ref: Watershed Study, p70)
    • The BCRSD still pushing the expansion of sewer service without an understanding of the scope and extent of the problem. No information was identified as to how many “systems” are failing to include what it could cost to mitigate. The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of a problem (human-caused e-coli) could be from 20% of the causes (failing septic systems ).
    • If the BCRSD think they have the needed evidence (probable cause) of failing systems,  then get a warrant from a Judge if needed to inspect the system (s) to confirm the assumptions. Residents could also voluntarily agree to an inspection of their system.

Water Management District (WMD).  This would shift the responsibility to the county to manage individual septic systems – at a cost TBD.

Sept 2021 Water Study Appendix B

Sewer Rates.  An example of additional costs related to sewer service provided by Nashville. The Town Council recently (June 2022) approved a 25% water rate hike. First hike since 2012, Future hikes to be more frequent.

Town council proposes 24.7% increase to sewer rate; private company ‘looking into’ purchase of town water utility

Post Constitutional America?

    • On his Sunday night show, Levin illustrated how the “ruling class,” the government, the media, big tech companies and academia, routinely attack the rights of the individual in the First and Second Amendments, so they can grab more power for themselves

LISTEN: Mark Levin says shootings can stop with return to Judeo-Christian roots by Heather Hamilton, Social Media Reporter  | May 25, 2022 01:09 PM

    • “I think a little bit more faith would help in the schools and in the public square,” Levin said. “It’s not such a terrible thing, and yet, we have secularized everything. I think a little bit more respect for the American people in the media rather than bringing on racists, some bigots who push their agenda. Couldn’t hurt.”

Biblical Worldview – Higher Quality of Life

Angel and the devil give advice. Funny little man, vector illustration.

Updated June 19, 2022

Worldview – American Heritage Dictionary.  The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world; A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group. One’s personal view of the world and how one interprets it.

Biblical Worldview: For the purposes of the research, a biblical worldview was defined as believing that absolute moral truths exist; that such truth is defined by the Bible; and firm belief in six specific religious views. Those views were that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He stills rules it today; salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned; Satan is real; a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people; and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.  (1)

Poll shocker: You won’t believe how many pastors actually have a biblical worldview Most troubling revelation is among those who teach young people By Bob Unruh, WND, May 17, 2022

    • A new poll shock has revealed that most Christian pastors believe what they want to believe, a “blending of ideas and applications from a variety of holistic worldviews into a unique but inconsistent combination that represents their personal preferences.”
    •  In fact, just slightly more than a third (37%) have a biblical worldview and the majority – 62% – possess a hybrid worldview known as Syncretism.”
    • “One group within the general public that is more likely to possess a biblical worldview than pastors are SAGE Cons (Spiritually Active Governance Engaged Conservative Christians). The American Worldview Inventory 2021 showed that 46% of SAGE Cons have a biblical worldview, a full nine percentage points higher than the incidence among pastors.” Are You a Sage Con_Courage for Life, May 2022.

Tipping Point Prophecy Update:Survey: Pastors Lack Biblical Worldview. This is exactly what the Bible said we would see in the last days, Jimmy Evans, May 27, 2022

Biblical world view stats

    • A new nationwide survey of Christian pastors in the United States has revealed that nearly two-thirds of them (62 percent) do not have a biblical worldview. That may sound shocking to you, but this is exactly what the Bible said we would see in the last days.
    • The pastors who don’t have a biblical worldview are likely to embrace competing worldviews, including Secular Humanism, Marxism, or Syncretism. Barna describes the mix-and-match Syncretism perspective as “the blending of ideas and applications from a variety of holistic worldviews into a unique but inconsistent combination that represents their personal preferences.” … More than six out of every 10 American pastors fall into this category of Syncretism.
    • Only four in 10 pastors have a biblical worldview about the truth of God’s Word and what it teaches about how we live our lives.
    • Source: Cultural Research Center, Arizona Christian University, StAWVI2022_Release05_Digital May 10, 2022

Original Survey

(1) A Biblical Worldview Has a Radical Effect on a Person’s Life, Barna Group, 2003.

The data described below are from telephone interviews with a nationwide random sample of 2,033 adults conducted during September through November 2003. The maximum margin of sampling error associated with the aggregate sample is ±2.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

    • The research indicated that everyone has a worldview, but relatively few people have a biblical worldview – even among devoutly religious people.  … The denominations that produced the highest proportions of adults with a biblical worldview were non-denominational Protestant churches (13%), Pentecostal churches (10%) and Baptist churches (8%).
    • For the purposes of the research, a biblical worldview was defined as believing that absolute moral truths exist; that such truth is defined by the Bible; and firm belief in six specific religious views. Those views were that:
      1. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life;
      2. God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He stills rules it today;
      3. salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned;
      4. Satan is real;
      5. a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people; and
      6. the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.

Some Churches Are Helping People

    • The research found that one of the most effective methods of enabling people to develop a biblical worldview is by addressing seven critical questions that consistently lead to beliefs and behaviors that are in tune with biblical teaching. Outlining that process in a new book he has written as an outgrowth of the research, entitled Think Like Jesus, Barna also noted that many churches are already helping their congregants to implement such a way of addressing daily challenges and opportunities….

Book: Think Like Jesus: Make The Right Decision Every Time by George Barna, March 30, 2005 Does God Exist?  

Seven Life-Changing Questions (pg.14)

  1. Does God Exist?
  2. What is the character and nature of God?
  3. How and why was the world created?
  4. What is the nature and purpose of humanity?
  5. What happens after we die on earth?
  6. What spiritual authorities exist?
  7. What is truth?

The Benefits of Thinking Like Jesus benefits thinking like jesus matrix

Local Brown County Indiana Church supports the development and reinforcement of the Biblical Worldview – Cottonwood Church

Saturate USA –Share the good news (Gospel) with 120 Million Homes in the U.S. BY 2027

Community Calendar. The Brown County Democrat publishes announcements, events, and training opportunities for Churches and other non-profits in the “Community Calendar” section of the paper and on their website.