Friday, February 20, 2015

Is Common Core Really Dangerous?

See article at:

Finding legitimate reasons to abandon Common Core has proven to be difficult. I did find an article on the objections of some conservatives.

As George Will stated in a Washington Post column, “What begins with mere national standards must breed ineluctable pressure to standardize educational content. Targets, metrics, guidelines and curriculum models all induce conformity in instructional materials.”

The creeping incrementalism theory never worked for me. It’s all about saying that this opens the door to a terrible situation; when it starts to become terrible, we stop it right there.

When SAT, ACT, and GED exams are “aligned” with Common Core, homeschooled students—as well as students educated in private schools—may be pressured into adopting Common Core for curriculum at home so that they are familiar with the presentation of material on the newly aligned college entrance exams.”

When one actually looks at the material, it becomes clear that they focus on skills, not content. Thus, one cannot really “adopt Common Core for curriculum”—it doesn’t really provide curricular content. One could use it to measure the difficulty and proficiency of one’s curriculum, but that’s slightly different.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says that the state should set the standards.  How’s that working? In a recent evaluation the state rated 48th among the states and D.C. I think I brought that out last time.

Does anyone doubt that much of the objection is because it is being promoted by President Obama? Is the opposition of parents because of the consequences of their children failing are so great?

The only objections that I can see are that teaching will be solely aimed at passing the test and that it may lessen the broader aspects of being an educated person. Perhaps the tests can be better constructed, but the concept is still sound.

Jindal’s Budgeting Skill

In a state the size of Louisiana, the shortfall is huge. But it is all the more daunting considering that the governor has unequivocally ruled out any plans for new revenue, bone-deep cuts have already been made to health care and higher education, ad hoc revenue sources that could be found to fill the gap have been all but drained and that robust economic growth, which might cushion the blow, has yet to materialize.

Tyler Bridges’ Scathing Assault on Bobby Jindal’s Budget Performance In POLITICO

But here’s what Jindal doesn’t say: Louisiana’s budget is hemorrhaging red ink, and it’s getting worse. He inherited a $900 million surplus when he became governor seven years ago, and his administration’s own budget documents now show the state is facing deficits of more than $1 billion for as far as the eye can see. There are no easy solutions today because Jindal has increasingly balanced the budget by resorting to one-time fixes, depleting the state’s reserve funds and taking money meant for other purposes. Louisiana finished 2014 with an operating deficit of $167 million. 

“There are all kinds of tricks in the budget,” said Greg Albrecht, the state legislature’s chief economist, a nonpartisan position. Meanwhile, the state’s unemployment rate has risen from 3.8 percent when Jindal took office, a point below the national average then, to 6.7 percent today—nearly a full point higher than today’s national average. 

For more on the story, see Rod Dreher’s “How Bobby Jindal Wrecked Louisiana,” published in, of all places, “American Conservative."


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Common Core

Celebrity Watch
Felicity Jones Loves Hot Baths- Here's Why! (VIDEO)

Vocabulary Watch

noun: A renewed activity after a period of dormancy.


Common Core

Common Core Standards attacked by Republicans

The Republican National Committee passed a resolution bashing the Common Core standards, calling them an “inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children.” Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, sent a letter to colleagues on the appropriations subcommittee that handles education funding asking that they “restore state decision-making and accountability with respect to state academic content standards.”

Of what are the Republicans afraid? They contend that curriculum is a state issue, Entrance to a university is not a state issue; admissions departments do not take into account that an unqualified applicant is from a state with lower standards, neither does the global jobs marketplace.

The Republicans are backed by an array of organizations with multimillion dollar budgets of their own and much experience in mobilizing crowds and lobbying lawmakers, including The Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, the Pioneer Institute, Concerned Women for America and FreedomWorks."

Bobby Jindal, Louisiana governor, was for CC before he was against it. His change of heart was caused by his attempt to be the perfect conservative, while campaigning for president.

According to the Report Card on American Education, Louisiana ranked 48th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. It did, however, get an A- on identifying effective teachers. What the state does with that information is unknown. The state ranks 23rd in  cost per student.

Who is the constituency against CC? Where do the concerns of parents lie? Some parents simply want to weaken requirements for their children. Many are afraid of the consequences of failing the tests.

What are the best examples of successful educational programs in the world? Let us look at Finland and South Korea:

Ninety-three percent of Finns graduate from academic or vocational high schools, 17.5 percentage points higher than the United States, and 66 percent go on to higher education, the highest rate in the European Union. Yet Finland spends about 30 percent less per student than the United States. Against my point, Finland does very little testing.

Every year South Korea comes to a halt on the day of high school exams, for it is the most important day in most South Koreans' lives. The single set of multiple-choice tests that students take that day determines their future. This all-or-nothing exam is causing considerable stress and may be replaced in some fashion.

So what’s my point? I am a firm believer in a Common Core, but we may have to revisit the testing regime.

We will have more on legitimate reasons to oppose CC next time.


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Sunday, February 08, 2015

For the Week Ending February 7, 2015

Celebrity Watch
I don’t read People magazine, but I get their three top headlines on my home page. I think some of their headlines show shallowness of entertainment folk, and what its readers apparently want to read. It also shows the low bar for achieving “celebrity.”

Behati Prinsloo Gets Piece-y Bangs: Are You Loving Them?

Vocabulary Watch

1. A stupid person.
2. A hunter.
Not much respect for hunters


Pentagon spent $504,816 on Viagra last year

The Department of Defense spent more than a half a million dollars on the male enhancement drug Viagra last year, according to government contracts.

The Washington Free Beacon reports the Pentagon issued 60 contracts worth $504,816 for the drug in 2014. All 60 contracts were awarded to Cardinal Health Inc., a pharmaceutical distribution company based in Dublin, Ohio.

It’s good for soldiers to have a stiff upper lip.

NBC's internal probe is also looking into reporting by Brian Williams in the aftermath of Katrina.

It didn't take long for the scandal enveloping Brian Williams to prompt fresh scrutiny of one of the most formative reporting assignments of his career: His time in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Did Williams really, as he later claimed, see a corpse float by his hotel in the French Quarter?

Skeptics noted that the French Quarter was largely dry after the devastating 2005 storm, casting doubt on Williams' account.

But that fact-check quickly drew its own fact-check.

Photos turned up Friday showing that there was indeed water surrounding the Ritz-Carlton, where Williams stayed. Individuals who were also in the area at the time have confirmed the flooding.

Dr. Gregory Henderson, a pathologist who stayed at the Ritz during the storm, told CNNMoney that he recalled waking up the morning after the levees were breached to see floodwaters that were "waist-high."

"If the question is was there enough water around the Ritz-Carlton for a dead person to float, the answer is yes," Henderson said. In a 2006 interview with former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, Williams described the horrifying scene in post-Katrina New Orleans.

"When you look out of your hotel room window in the French Quarter and watch a man float by face down, when you see bodies that you last saw in Banda Aceh, Indonesia and swore to yourself that you would never see in your country," Williams said.

This could be Brian’s next scandal. Would it be enough to take him down?
This is how the New Orleans media turned this into a local story. Shameless.

I don’t embellish my military career. Its highlight was as an aircraft mechanic during the Cuban missile crisis. I pulled out the chocks on many plans flying reconnaissance over Cuba. It was from Belle Chasse LA.


jbv's Competitive Edge