Spenditol

Heh.

This appears to have gone viral already, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to contribute to its propagation.

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Cheating Students Out of an Education

Cheating Students Out Of An Education
by James K. Glassman @ Forbes

In fact, the “be-all end-all” of K-12 education is student achievement – which is advanced through “teaching and learning.” Testing may not be perfect, but it is the best objective way to measure progress. Test results give parents, voters, and public officials important metrics for holding teachers and principals accountable for doing their jobs.

This, as the kids say.

As a “private sector educator” (I’m the lead instructor for a local tutoring center), I think I have an interesting perspective on the testing issue. You see, at my workplace, we use tests to meassure achievement all the time — and if the parents of our students don’t see real improvement in scores after the implementation of my program (which is a bit of a hodge-podge based on my several years of personal experience with hundreds of kids), that will affect my pocketbook. Consequently, whenever I hear public school teachers complaining about the testing under NCLB, I respond with a distinct lack of sympathy. If I don’t meet certain testing goals, I lose customers. Why shouldn’t it be any different for public educators?

As I’ve noted in the past, there are problems with NCLB. I think the states cheat in a far more insidious way by setting low bars. In Virginia – which is a pretty high achieving state relative to the national average, sadly – you only need to get 55 – 60% of the questions correct to pass the end-of-course SOL for basic chemistry. 75% – 80% is the proficiency standard I use at work — and for some topics (like the basic math facts), I demand 99% accuracy. But the solution to the states’ gaming of the system is not to throw out all tests; the solution is to make the tests better. Raise the standards, and design tests that require more critical thinking. (And yes, you can do this in the multiple-choice format. Just write questions that require the student to problem solve through multiple steps. And consult some professional psychometricians while you’re at it.)

Also — do we ever hold back students anymore? From where I sit, it doesn’t appear so. I’ve worked with many middle-grade students who haven’t even mastered the times tables, and I find that extraordinarily worrying. We shouldn’t be pushing students on to the next level if they haven’t mastered everything on the current level. If a student of mine hasn’t mastered multiplication, I don’t move on to something else. I keep working on that topic until the student understands it. If a student is not reading on grade level because he or she hasn’t learned to blend basic phonemes, I drill blending in every single session until that student’s performance is almost perfect. Any other approach, I think, leads to failure.

But I digress. Suffice it to say that I believe the tax-paying public has a right to know what’s going on in the schools — and testing is the best way to communicate that information.

Excessive Heat Warning

Oh, goodie:

…EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TO 8 PM EDT THURSDAY… …EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TO 8 PM EDT FRIDAY…

* TEMPERATURE…UPPER 90S TO AROUND 100 DEGREES.

* HEAT INDEX VALUES…UP TO 111.

* TIMING…THE WORST OF THE HEAT WILL BE DURING THE AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING HOURS THURSDAY AND FRIDAY. THE EXCESSIVE HEAT WILL LIKELY CARRY OVER INTO THE WEEKEND AS WELL.

Try not to melt out there, folks!

You Know Who Also Had Migraines?

Thomas Jefferson. Meanwhile, John Adams possibly had hyperthyroidism (or something with similar symptoms), and Abraham Lincoln had clinical depression. Yet the historical contributions of all three of these men are incontrovertible.

The fact that Michele Bachmann’s struggle with severe migraine headaches somehow constitutes a “scandal” is sign of how shallow we have become as a nation. Sheesh! If you wish to disqualify her for the top seat, disqualify her based on the issues, not on a benign (though extremely unpleasant) chronic medical condition.

(Sorry. I have a painful and periodically debilitating disease myself, so I take this kind of thing rather personally.)

Thomas Sowell on Tax Cuts

Dissecting The Demagoguery About ‘Tax Cuts For The Rich’
by Thomas Sowell

High rates drive taxpayers into shelters.

Mellon pointed out that, under the high income-tax rates at the end of the Woodrow Wilson administration in 1921, vast sums of money had been put into tax shelters such as tax-exempt municipal bonds instead of being invested in the private economy, where this money would create more output, incomes and jobs — thereby producing higher tax revenues for the federal government.

It was an argument that would be made at various times over the years by others — and repeatedly evaded by attacks on a “trickle-down theory” found only in the rhetoric of opponents.

Sowell remains a reliable spokesperson for the conservative movement.

Replies to Leftwing Debt Demagoguery

Debt Ceiling Demagoguery:
How the GOP Can Win the War of Words

by David Cohen @ the Daily Caller

Can’t millionaires and billionaires afford to pay higher taxes? Of course they can. We don’t care if raising taxes would cramp the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous — they can choke on their caviar for all we care. What we care about is that the rich, who have the ability to make the investments that allow businesses to create jobs, will have less money to invest.

If millionaires and billionaires have less money to invest, can’t government investment make up for it? There are very few things that government does efficiently, and creating jobs isn’t one of them. It was recently estimated that the stimulus cost us $278,000 per job created, and that we could have saved $427 billion by simply giving each of these people a check for $100,000. And the stimulus has added $666 billion (so far) to the debt burden on our children and grandchildren. Sure, the government could suck more money out of our struggling economy and pump some of that money back into the economy in government’s disastrously inefficient manner, but here’s a better idea: just leave the money in the economy in the first place…

Go and read the rest. I think this article does a good job summarizing our position on taxes.

Stifling the Future of Education

Virtually Irrelevant:
How Certification Rules Impede the Growth of Virtual Schools

published by the John Locke Foundation

Christensen, Horn, and Johnson ask, “Escalante was an exceptional teacher. Why not capture Escalante’s instructional magic on film and make it available to schools anywhere?” To put a modern spin on the question, “Why not capture someone with Escalante’s instructional magic on a computer and make it available to schools anywhere?”

The technology to deliver high-quality online instruction exists, but a teacher of Escalante’s caliber without the right teaching certificate would not be permitted to teach in online schools in other states. Why? That teacher would not have the credentials needed to teach in each of the states offering the course. Unless the teacher possessed a current North Carolina teaching license, for example, the NC Department of Public Instruction would not permit him or her to teach in this state, regardless of talent.

It’s time to move beyond the status quo, folks. Our students would do better in math and science if they were taught by professionals in those fields.

Obama’s Fiscal Record

If you wish to read a full timeline detailing Obama’s prodigality, Rep. Paul Ryan has published one here:

A BRIEF HISTORY OF PRESIDENT OBAMA’S FISCAL RECORD

The Democrats* consistently increase government spending whenever they’re in power. That’s why we can’t trust them in the current budget battle. Once they get their precious tax hikes, they won’t fulfill their other promises.

Historically, higher taxes have encouraged more government spending that matches – and then exceeds – the new intake. We need to break that cycle.

*And establishment Republicans.

Obama’s Health Care Fables

Obama’s Fables Sell Health Care To The Gullible
by Michelle Malkin

The tall-tale-teller-in-chief cited mom Stanley Ann Dunham’s deathbed fight with her insurer several times over the years to support his successful push to ban pre-existing condition exclusions by insurers. In a typical recounting, Obama shared his personalized trauma in a 2008 debate:

“For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.”

But there was something fundamentally wrong with Obama’s story. In a recently published biography of Obama’s mother, author and New York Times reporter Janny Scott discovered that Dunham’s health insurer had in fact reimbursed her medical expenses with nary an objection. The actual coverage dispute centered on a separate disability insurance policy.

A White House spokesman insisted to the Times that the anecdote somehow still “speaks powerfully to the impact of pre-existing condition limits on insurance protection from health care costs” — though Dunham’s primary health insurer did everything it was supposed to do and met all its contractual obligations.

I’ve discovered that this kind of fibbing is pretty much a standard Democrat strategy in re: the health care debate. Remember the LJ explosion over Melissa Mia Hall’s recent death? The fact that Hall could’ve easily walked into a number of hospitals in the Fort Worth area and received care and financial aid completely escaped these leftists’ attention. Why tell the truth if it’s politically inconvenient?

Call His Bluff!

This seems to be the current rallying cry among the conservative commentariat. For example:

Call Obama’s Bluff
by Charles Krauthammer @ the WaPo

President Obama is demanding a big long-term budget deal. He won’t sign anything less, he warns, asking, “If not now, when?”

How about last December, when he ignored his own debt commission’s recommendations? How about February, when he presented a budget that increases debt by $10 trillion over the next decade? How about April, when he sought a debt-ceiling increase with zero debt reduction attached?

All of a sudden he’s a born-again budget balancer prepared to bravely take on his own party by making deep cuts in entitlements. Really? Name one. He’s been saying forever that he’s prepared to discuss, engage, converse about entitlement cuts. But never once has he publicly proposed a single structural change to any entitlement.

Hasn’t the White House leaked that he’s prepared to raise the Medicare age or change the cost-of-living calculation?

Anonymous talk is cheap. Leaks are designed to manipulate. Offers are floated and disappear.

Say it, Mr. President. Give us one single structural change in entitlements. In public.

As part of the pose as the forward-looking grown-up rising above all the others who play politics, Obama insists upon a long-term deal. And what is Obama’s definition of long-term? Surprise: An agreement that gets him past Nov. 6, 2012.

Nothing could be more political. It’s like his Afghan surge wind-down date. September 2012 has no relation to any military reality on the ground. It is designed solely to position Obama favorably going into the last weeks of his reelection campaign.

Krauthammer then goes on to propose that the Republican House pass a short-term debt ceiling hike coupled with budget cuts. Personally, I think Krauthammer is probably right. We really aren’t going to accomplish anything more until we get Obama out of the White House.