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ATPE Endorsement Response
January 15th, 2014 | View Post

Association of Texas Professional Educators
On January 9th, 2014 I received an email from the Association of Texas Professional Educators (http://www.teachthevote.org).

The email read as follows:

Dear Kevin Ludlow

The Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) invites you to take part in our 2014 candidate survey. With more than 100,000 members, ATPE is the largest educator group in Texas and the largest nonunion educator group in the nation. Our membership consists primarily of public school classroom teachers but also includes administrators, paraprofessionals, future educators, retired educators and public members. ATPE does not endorse candidates, but we do encourage our members and the public to enthusiastically support those candidates who place a priority on public education.

To help Texas voters learn more about candidates' stances on education issues, ATPE sponsors a nonpartisan advocacy website "TeachtheVote.org" that features profiles of every Texas House of Representatives, Senate and State Board of Education (SBOE) candidate or officeholder. The website is accessible to the general public and also houses the Teach the Vote blog, which offers education news, resources for voters and general information about education-related politics.

If you choose to participate in our candidate survey, your responses will be posted on TeachtheVote.org and will not be edited. We hope you will take advantage of this unique opportunity to communicate your views on public education to a vast audience.

  1. Is there a need to increase funding to meet the needs of our student population? If so, how would you recommend securing more revenue for public education?


    No. I do not believe there is a need to increase the funding to meet the needs of our student population. There is, however, a great need to streamline costs and to cut wasted spending. In my experience both as a student and observer of the public education system, much of this waste can be found in administration, boards, and other bureaucratic "educational" positions that receive bloated public salaries and provide little to no value towards actual education.

    Secondary to this would be properly utilizing technologies to streamline the costs of books, papers, and student administration.
  2. Regardless of the level of funding, do you believe that Texas public education dollars are being spent in an appropriate manner, or should the funds be reallocated and spent in different ways?


    No I do not. I believe that dollars in public education are largely being used to fund an enormous bureaucracy that benefits high-level positions in education while ignoring the basic needs of students and teachers.

    Funds should be allocated towards teacher salaries, teaching tools, a wide spectrum of academic studies (eg: arts, trades, music, etc) and proper nutrition.
  3. Would you vote to spend public tax dollars on a voucher, tax credit or scholarship that allows students to attend non-public schools in grades K-12? Why or why not?


    While I would ideally like to reduce the amount of tax dollars necessary for education in the first place, so long as we're arguing mid-stream, yes I would vote in favor of this.

    The educational path of any student should be up to the parents of the student, and the student him or herself, not the state of Texas and certainly not the federal government. There is no justifiable reason why parents who send their children to private institutions should not be reimbursed the same level of funding that they are otherwise being forced to spend (by taxation) to send their children to a public school.
  4. Do you believe the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) should be maintained as a traditional defined benefit pension plan for all future, current and retired educators, or would you vote to convert TRS to a defined contribution plan that is more like a 401(k), in which future benefits are not guaranteed? Why?


    Since I am not a teacher, I do not have a strong opinion one way or the other in this matter.

    My understanding of the TRS from teachers who are economically informed is that it is run well. If teachers are happy with their pension program, I don't see any reason to change it.
  5. Local decisions on whether to continue a teacher's employment and how much to pay each teacher are often based on evaluations. To what extent, if any, should a teacher's evaluation be based on his students' scores on state standardized tests? If you believe student test scores should factor into a teacher's evaluation, how would you recommend evaluating teachers in grades or subjects for which there are no state standardized tests?


    The current methodologies behind standardized testing are a travesty to the educational process. They allow lazy and incompetent teachers to remain in place teaching material they may have no real comprehension of in the first place while at best ignoring, and at worst penalizing the efforts of truly wonderful and gifted educators.

    I believe evaluations should be made by highly-competent overseers and should be based on criteria far beyond that of standardized testing. In my opinion, a teacher who is able to connect with a student is worth far more to that student than one who simply forces him or her to memorize a packet full of useless sample testing questions.
  6. Would you vote to maintain a hard cap on the number of students per class, or should school administrators be given more flexibility to increase class sizes? (Currently, the law imposes a cap of 22:1 in grades K-4 but allows schools to obtain a waiver, a step many of them routinely take.)


    Specifically as I am in favor of vouchers, administrators should be given the flexibility to run a school as they best see fit without nuanced ratios and state-based calculations. While I am sure such ratios are very well-intended, they simply can't account for the actual needs of the school.
  7. If a public school in your district failed to meet state accountability standards for two or more consecutive years, would you support allowing a private entity to take over the management of that school, essentially converting it to a charter school?


    No. While I am fully in favor of private schools, so long as public dollars are being used to manage a school, I am not in favor of mixing entities and otherwise paving the road for the government to pick their favorite private entities.

    Private entities ought to be chosen by the marketplace and are ultimately a function of their successes (or failures for that matter)
  8. Do you believe charter schools in Texas have been largely successful? Should their presence be expanded? Why or why not?


    I'm not familiar with data on this topic, but I am sure such data exists to illustrate the successes and failures of charter schools. That said, and because they're ultimately privatized institutions, I can see no reason why they should not be expanded if people are interested in expanding them.
  9. You may use the space below to provide additional comments.


    It would be nice if more than the Republicans and Democrats were represented in the party affiliation section.

THSC Endorsement Response
January 6th, 2014 | View Post

Texas Home School Coalition Logo
On December 12th, 2013 I received an email from the Texas Home School Coalition (http://www.thsc.org/).

The email read as follows:

To the campaign office of Kevin Ludlow,

Mr. Ludlow,

My name is Lisa Scott. I'm an intern with the THSC, and I've been authorized to send you this questionnaire, that the THSC might consider an endorsement. Please fill out this form as soon as possible, and let me know if you have any questions regarding the THSC endorsement process.

Lisa Scott
THSC Intern
[EMAIL HIDDEN]

The Texas Home School Coalition Association supports conservative candidates for the Texas legislature and state-wide office.

THSC Association is dedicated to constitutional freedom, economic sense, and traditional values.

Tim Lambert, President

*Directions for Answering the Survey*

Most of the questions in the survey are in a simple Yes and No format. A few short answers are requested.

No trick questions are asked. Feel free to call our office at 806-744-4441 if any clarifications are needed.
  • Please describe your philosophy of government and what practical steps you would take to implement your philosophy.

    My philosophy of government is trivial: the government is to be restrained and limited its powers. Individual freedom and choices are the responsibility of the individual, not the government. The government can be (and should be) used an an arbitrator (of sorts) to address grievances between parties. Further legislation need not be created as a result of arbitrated agreements.

    Implementation of this philosophy is educational in nature. It would be terribly contradictory to force the implementation of the philosophy I described above.
     
  • Which of the following most closely describes your public policy views on social issues?

    Social Moderate
     
  • Which of the following most closely describes your public policy views on fiscal issues?

    Fiscal conservative.
     
  • Please add any additional explanation concerning your public policy views.

    I think the goal of my public policy views is to shoot for a very hypothetical restrained-government ideal, but to tactfully go after policies that do individual freedom a great harm on a large scale (essentially prioritizing).
     
  • Do you believe taxes are too high?

    Yes.
     
  • Will you vote, under any circumstances, to raise taxes?

    No.
     
  • If yes, what circumstances?

    Never.
     
  • Will you work to lower taxes?

    Yes.
     
  • Will you support the introduction and passage of an amendment to the Texas Constitution requiring a two-thirds majority vote in each house to raise taxes?

    Yes.
     
  • Do you believe that abortion is the taking of human life?

    No.
     
  • Do you believe the U.S. Constitution supports the right to have an abortion?

    Yes.
     
  • Do you support taxpayer funding of abortions?

    No.
     
  • Do you believe that an unborn child is a person under the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

    No.
     
  • Would you vote to prohibit abortion?

    No.
     
  • Would you vote to prohibit abortion in the case of rape?

    No.
     
  • Would you vote to prohibit abortion in the case of incest?

    No.
     
  • Would you vote to prohibit abortion to save the life of the mother?

    No.
     
  • Briefly explain how your view of abortion might impact your public policy votes.

    I am not in favor of abortions and am interested in promoting REAL educational talking points around the topic rather than pursuing the never-ending partisan black/white discussion that we're engaged in.

    That said, I do not believe the government should intervene in this matter in any way at all (perhaps other than to provide - or at least promote - the spread of information on the controversial topic).

    I will not cater to any religious belief system. I believe that radical left-wing individuals on this topic need be more sympathetic to their counter-believers, and that radical right-wing individuals need to be more pragmatic and compassionate to their counter-believers.
     
  • Do you favor adding "sexual orientation" as a protected minority under existing civil rights laws?

    Yes.
     
  • Do you favor conferring married tax status, health care and other benefits to homosexuals through the legal recognition of homosexual marriages?

    Yes.
     
  • Do you favor allowing homosexuals to adopt children?

    Yes.
     
  • Do you favor laws that restrict the production, sale, and distribution of pornography?

    No.
     
  • Will you work to restore parents� fundamental constitutional right to direct the care, control and upbringing of their children by amending the Texas Family Code to stop the lawsuit abuse of fit parents under the grandparent access statute as related to HB 2547 in the 83rd Legislative Session?

    Yes.
     
  • Will you oppose any legislation that would result in the regulation of private and home schools?

    No.
     
  • Will you oppose legislation which transfers power from the elected State Board of Education to the Commissioner of Education?

    Yes.
     
  • Will you oppose efforts to change the elected State Board of Education to a board appointed by the Governor?

    Yes.
     
  • Will you oppose efforts to undermine parental rights in CPS investigations as attempted in SB 1440 in the 81st legislative session?

    No.
     
  • Will you support legislation allowing home school students to take part in extra-curricular activities at public schools?

    Yes.
     
  • Would you support legislation to end the use of daytime curfews by cities and counties to circumvent state compulsory attendance laws?

    Yes.
     
  • Will you support the Second Amendment right to own and bear arms?

    Yes.
     
  • Do you believe gun control laws reduce crime?

    No.
     
  • Will you support the death penalty in appropriate cases?

    No.
     
  • Will you support the decriminalization of drugs?

    Yes.
     
  • Will you support efforts to have Texas judges appointed instead of elected?

    No.
     
  • Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

    While some questions in this survey may not be "trick questions" as suggested by the introduction, a number of them are simply not black and white (yes vs no) questions.

    For example with respect to homosexual marriage, I do not support any type of government intervention of marriage at all. Therefore answering whether I would support homosexual marriage (in essence) is rather misleading for me. I believe all people are given identical rights.

    Additionally the question of "Do you believe that abortion is the taking of human life?" is simply NOT a yes/no question. I answered no as it fits the political spectrum from which I believe. Is a 1-day embryo life - NO. Is a 250-day-old fetus life - probably yes. But this does not change my political stance on the matter.

    Please call me with any other questions.
     

Oscar and Vinnie Colaiuta
December 27th, 2013 | View Post
As part of my wonderful experience of getting to see Carly's band (T-Bird and the Breaks) open for Sting at the Moody Theater, we also had the pleasure of meeting Sting's band backstage.

Vinnie Colaiuta is one of those guys that you've probably never heard of - unless you're a drummer. Needless to say, T-Bird's drummer, Oscar, is a huge fan of the guy. I had the pleasure of filming the two of them meeting and thought it would be nice to put a little video together for Oscar.

I released it just the other day and thought it would make some good website content too!


Jonas and "Muck" - You Bastards
December 9th, 2013 | View Post
I've been trying to get my 21-month-old nephew to learn my name for the past several months. Try as I might, he does not seem interested in making this a verbal reality.

My sister sent me an email the other day while I happened to be attending the Baylor/UT (and the last game ever at Floyd-Casey stadium in Waco).

It read: "Jonas learned to say an uncle's name, but which one??" Included was a video attachment. Given the crowd density (and perhaps because TMobile occasionally sucks), it took about 30 minutes to download it.

My sister is cold:



Muck is NOT my name.
State Representative, District 46 Filing
December 4th, 2013 | View Post

Caption Here
I'm running for the Texas House of Representatives in District 46. Here is what I have to say about it.

A Little Background

As most all of my friends know, I have been highly engaged in politics since my early 20s. This escalated around the age of 23 when I began traveling the world more freely and exposed myself to different cultures and ideals. It continued into my later 20s as I became more and more frustrated with our destructive 2-party system and sought after 3rd party candidates and dissidents within the major parties (Nader, Paul, Kucinich, amongst others).

At 33 I published my first political science book, "American Healthcare: A Moderate Approach" (ALMOST a NY Times Best Seller!), and also began a political science podcast with a friend of mine called the JKPodcast. Sadly it's been on hiatus since the summer due to a new baby, but we'll fire it up again soon!

And so it stands to reason that at the ripe young age of 34, I have officially filed for candidacy in the State of Texas. I am running for the Texas House of Representatives, District 46 (where I live).

Qualify what this means

Unless I am able to find momentum in my local community to back my candidacy, I have no intention of attempting to run an actual campaign. This is not because I am uninterested in it, but rather that politics heavily favors the two-party system, heavily favors incumbents, and my opponent is part of both.

I am historically much more of a political activist than a politician. But having said that, and since I am eligible to run for office, it sounds like an amazing opportunity and I will take it very seriously.

State district 46 (essentially east and northeast Austin) has been represented by Dawnna Dukes for as long as I can remember. Personally speaking, she seems like an absolutely lovely woman. I have been in her company in numerous events over the years and been introduced at least twice.

But this coming year I will have my name along side hers on the ballot.

Though I loathe both the Democrats and Republicans (she is a Democrat), her legislative efforts in the House have appeared mostly humanitarian in nature. Granted, this is really more of a surface analysis. If you dig deeper you'll likely uncover that she's not been particularly helpful to the LGBT community of Austin, she supports drug penalties (despite such laws heavily weighing against most of her district), and I even found that she would support a state income tax. There's also an occasional "weird" one that I come across, in Dawnna's case is was the support of corporal punishment in school. I find myself asking: 'what year is this?'

How did this all come about?

Several months back, the Libertarian Party of Texas reached out to political activists and asked if any would consider a run for office. I responded that I would. About two months ago I received a call asking if I was serious about running. I maintained that I was. Finally about four weeks ago I received a call asking if I was REALLY serious about running. I took a small step back.

I explained how I had no proven ability to run a campaign namely as I do not have proper funding for such a thing. I also explained that my personal political interests have tended towards Austin and National politics; I have been interested in making a run for a Congressional seat. Unfortunately the party explained to me that given the number of people seeking a national seat, I should start with the state level and they would be willing to back me. I welcomed the new idea.

What is the goal?

The Libertarian Party is attempting to fill Texas ballots with people who are well-versed in the goals and ideals of libertarianism as a philosophy. For the most part, this appeals to me greatly and I am happy to get involved.

I should note here that I am NOT a Tea Party activist and for the most part, do NOT agree with the policies of the Tea Party. This extends into general women's rights, LGBT rights, abortion positions (I'm very pro-choice - though do understand and respect the views of anti-abortionists), and immigration policies (I inherently support open borders). I am also an agnostic-atheist and this carries with me dearly into my political views (I fully support God - just not with respect to legislation of the masses).

Representative Dukes is a well-regarded state politician and it would be foolish to think I could just strut into the ring and unseat her; she is good at being a politician. That said, if I am able to find supporters in the local area, I will gladly run as best a campaign I possibly can. And should that result in a victory somewhere down the road, I will happily take her seat in the House Chambers. Beyond that, and with all things in my life, I intend to have a great deal of fun with the process. I'm sure I will learn a thing or two about the process of a state campaign from [more of] the inside-out.

In the next few days I will put together a short document that outlines my political views on major issues. If nothing else, I am very consistent in my views and am happy to have them documented publicly (most already are)

Having now gotten all of the reality-check out of the way, vote Ludlow 2014!
The James Turrell Skyspace
December 3rd, 2013 | View Post
Today I had the pleasure of being invited to one of the most amazing visual art installments I have ever seen anywhere in the world. The piece was created by James Turrell and sits atop the Student Activity Center on the University of Texas at Austin campus.

I most certainly cannot do the piece justice in words, but I will try to describe it objectively. Atop the student building is an oval-shaped concrete dome. There is a single entrance on the east side. Inside are polished concrete seats wrapping the edges, save for the entrance. The seats are angled so that the viewer can more comfortably gaze up at the ceiling. All of the walls and ceiling are painted white; the seats are a darker gray. In the middle of the white ceiling is an oval-shaped hole. The viewer sits on the seat and stares into the sky through this hole, of course only able to see a small bit of the sky at any given time.

Less than an hour from sundown (and sunrise), the light show begins. As the lights [very] slowly rotate through a series of vivid colors, the viewer gets entirely lost in the color-shifting effects in the sky. As the surrounding light changes, it contrasts the sky so vividly that the juxtaposed images appear to shift the color of the sky. Of course that is not actually the case at all and instead our eyes simply perceive this to be happening. The color differential also creates an illusion that the opening in the ceiling is a floating egg (or similar physical entity). It's incredibly surreal, peaceful, and amazing.


A view of the dusky sky surrounded by yellow lighting. This was my favorite color sequence. When I would let the scene take over my eyes, I thought the scene looked like a giant sunflower.



Another photo just to show how significant the color difference makes to the sky.



Although I wasn't previously familiar with Turrell by name, I actually had the pleasure of seeing one of his private light installments on a daily basis for over a year. I worked as a contractor for Dimensional Fund Advisors in their Austin office near Bee Caves. If you're not familiar with them, DFA is an incredibly successful mutual fund company that was started by David Booth in Santa Monica, California. They moved their headquarters to Austin about five years ago and built one of the most amazing buildings I have ever seen. As it happens, David's wife, Suzanna Booth, is a huge proponent of the arts. The entire building is essentially a private art museum and the Turrell piece is just one of many amazing elements within it.

So although I already really enjoyed the artist, this was the first time I had the pleasure of actually learning about him. I would highly recommend it to anyone, especially those interested in the visual arts.