Friday, February 22, 2019

Recessions Might Encourage More Competent People To Become Teachers

It makes sense when you think about it:
Between whipsaw stock market closings and grim tidings from the ongoing trade war with China, whispers have spread over the past few months of a possible recession in 2019. This month’s reports of strong hiring and wage growth have quieted Wall Street for now, but some experts warn that America’s epic expansion may be enjoying its last months.

But while no one (including education journalists) welcomes the prospect of shrinking markets, there might be a silver lining for schools: According to a recent study, teachers who begin their careers during recessions are more effective than those hired during sunnier economic times.

The study, conducted by Harvard education professor Martin West and German economists Markus Nagler and Marc Piopiunik, has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Labor Economics, with a manuscript circulated online. Though it isn’t scheduled to be published until 2020, the article will offer guidance to education policymakers looking to navigate future downturns that may come sooner than that...

“[E]xisting research indicates that earnings returns are twice as large for numeracy than for literacy skills in the U.S. labor market.” In other words, the high demand for math skills in lucrative fields like engineering or computer science disproportionately draws away job candidates who would have otherwise made exceptional math teachers. In the instance of a recession, when alternative job prospects dry up, the labor market flattens out, and more are attracted to stable careers in teaching.

The True Purpose of Political Correctness

“In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”

― Theodore Dalrymple

I Support This. For The Environment.

I wonder what the probability of seeing these lanes in my lifetime is:
A California lawmaker has introduced a bill that would make the state part of an exclusive club: The state would become one of the rare places in the world with highways with no speed limit.

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, has introduced Senate Bill 319, which would add two lanes each to the north- and south-bound lanes of I-5 and Highway 99 — those lanes would have no upper speed limit. Moorlach argued in the bill language that “traffic congestion increases the emissions of greenhouse gases as it causes automobiles to idle longer while on roadways.“
A Republican proposed this? Then it will never happen in California.  But but but, it's for the environment!  How will a liberal make up his/her/xis mind?  I know.  He/she/xe will say it won't help the environment, and then he/she/xe can oppose this bill without any cognitive dissonance.  Whew, glad that's all figured out.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

What Does The Taxpayer Get For His/Her Federal Education Dollar?

Not as much as he/she should:
What GAO Found

GAO identified four key challenges the Department of Education (Education) faces in assessing K-12 program performance. Education has taken steps to mitigate these performance assessment challenges, which could improve transparency and understanding about the extent to which Educations K-12 programs are achieving their goals. Ongoing efforts to address challenges may prove particularly important given the changing education landscape under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Key Challenges in Assessing K-12 Program Performance

Oversight and monitoring. Weaknesses in Education's internal controls have hindered its oversight and monitoring of grantees and its assessments of K-12 program performance. In April 2017, GAO reported that Education's oversight of discretionary grants monitoring was limited. Some offices, including the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, did not consistently document required monitoring activities in official grant files. GAO recommended that Education establish and implement written supervisory review procedures for official grant files. In response, Education officials said they are developing a standard operating procedure for maintaining official grant records, which they plan to issue in early 2019.

Data quality. Persistent quality issues with K-12 data that grantees submit to Education have limited Education's ability to use those data to assess performance. In April 2017, GAO reported that Education lacks reasonable assurance that data submitted by grantees for its 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant program are accurate, and that these data may not be useful for decision making and reporting. GAO recommended that Education check the accuracy of federal-level data submitted by grantees. In response, Education officials said they modified and improved the agency's data system to perform these types of checks and reduce errors.

Capacity. Education's ability to oversee and monitor grantees, collect and report quality data, and use performance assessment information in decision making is directly related to its capacity and organizational resources. According to Education officials, capacity has been and remains a challenge to assessing K-12 program performance. In its 2016 report on the Rural Education Achievement Program, Education's Office of Inspector General (OIG) concluded that Education's inadequate monitoring of program grantees was partly due to its limited human capital capacity. In response, Education requested additional staff and implemented a risk-based approach for selecting grantees to monitor, according to Education officials cited in the OIG report.

Methodological limitations. Education has faced methodological limitations assessing program performance, including difficulties assessing the benefits of flexible grant programs, isolating program impact, and measuring long-term outcomes. Education officials told GAO that these types of methodological challenges are difficult to address, although Education has taken steps to mitigate them. For example, GAO reported in May 2014 on the difficulty Education faces in evaluating the effectiveness of the Promise Neighborhoods program in part because the program provides certain flexibilities to grantees. Partly in response to GAO's recommendation that Education develop a plan to conduct a national evaluation of the program, Education awarded a contract in fiscal year 2018 to develop options for evaluating the program's effect on student outcomes. In November 2018, Education officials stated that they intend to award a new contract in late fiscal year 2019 to evaluate the effectiveness of the program nationwide.
I know what let's do. Let's put the feds in charge of health care!

Seen On Social Media

I'm Not An Entrepreneur, But I Sure Support Them

Whatever "it" is that makes entrepreneurs, I lack it.  I was a pretty good manufacturing manager, and if I have a superpower it would be the ability to look at a system and identify where it can be made more efficient.  You'd want me in charge of your plant, and in a military environment, you'd want me as your second-in-command.  But seeing a need in the marketplace and trying to fill it?  Starting a business?  No, that's just not me.  And every internet quiz I've ever taken about being an entrepreneur says the same thing.

But some people make excellent entrepreneurs, and I hope the United States will always remain a country that welcomes and supports them:
Seattle has been suffering through its snowiest February in 70 years, with accumulations of up to 10 inches in some places. But all that white has meant green for one young man with a snowplow, who says he made $35,000 in four days.
What's he going to do with all that money?
Holston said he plans to donate 20% to his church, buy some lawn equipment, and will save the rest to put toward his first house. 
Way to go, kid!

Worst Nazi Ever

Moves our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Leads the Congress and Supreme Court in the singing of Happy Birthday to a Holocaust survivor.

Initiates a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality:
The Trump administration is launching a global campaign to end the criminalization of homosexuality in dozens of nations where it's still illegal to be gay, U.S. officials tell NBC News, a bid aimed in part at denouncing Iran over its human rights record.

Now let's take a tangent off that last piece.  Blinded by its own hatred, Out Magazine denounces the President for this action:
The Trump administration is set to launch a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality in dozens of nations where anti-gay laws are still on the books, NBC News reported Monday. While on its surface, the move looks like an atypically benevolent decision by the Trump administration, the details of the campaign belie a different story. Rather than actually being about helping queer people around the world, the campaign looks more like another instance of the right using queer people as a pawn to amass power and enact its own agenda.
That last sentence is some true projection, there.  Liberals will squeal over something a conservative does when they fawn over a fellow liberal who did the exact same thing (see: Bill Clinton, et al., regarding southern border security).

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Have There Been Any Real Ones?

When you have to fake a so-called hate crime, you reinforce in my mind what a great country we live in--except for lying trash like you.

Let's be sure to add Chris Ball's fake story to the list.

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Weather's True Impact

Yesterday I saw something that is notable if for no other reason than it happens so rarely that it's a big deal when it does occur.  We've had lots of rain here in the Valley this past week and severe weather over the Sierra.  Interstate 80 has been closed or highly limited, with a snowplow convoying cars through.  Trucks have been stopped on both sides of the mountains, which means Wal*mart has had difficulty being restocked:
That's the vegetable aisle.  Fresh fruits looked the same.  Even dairy was getting low.  I just wanted bananas.  There were no bananas.

BTW, I'm told that this is what stores in Venezuela look like.  And in the old communist countries.  All the time, not just for a couple days.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Unilateral Presidential Actions

Remember the pen and the phone?  Remember when President Obama changed the Obamacare law in contravention of what the Congress passed?  Liberals cheered when Democratic presidents went rogue, but now that a (Republican) president wants to secure the border, that's a bad thing?  Perhaps I can be forgiven for believing that their goals are somewhat partisan:
Whatever your position is on President Trump's declaration of a national emergency in order get the wall on the southern border built, one thing is clear: Democrats denouncing this decision are absolute hypocrites.

Barack Obama started his presidency with his party controlling both houses of Congress. The moment the GOP took back the House, Obama decided he was unwilling to work on compromise legislation to achieve his agenda, and instead repeatedly threatened to enact his agenda unilaterally. “We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” he said in January 2014. And he followed through on that threat, even on issues such as immigration. Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) programs via executive action, essentially giving amnesty to illegal immigrants without the consent of Congress.

Back then, Democrats in Congress loved it when Obama abused his power to alter immigration law without their consent. In May 2014, Sen. Chuck Schumer (R-N.Y.) warned Republicans in Congress that “if they don’t pass immigration reform... the president will have no choice but to act on his own.”
You don't like that a national emergency has been invoked?  There are currently 31 in effect, including some from the last president saying we're not going to be friends with some of the people who are destabilizing Yemen.  Which is more of a national emergency, the stability of Yemen or our own border?

Friday, February 15, 2019

Is This A Church/State Separation Issue?

Several years ago one of our senior classes had its "senior breakfast" in the large meeting hall of a large nearby church.  Crosses were on the walls and everything, and I wondered if anyone was going to complain about having a semi-official school function (paid for by the senior class and not supervised, if I recall correctly, by school administration) at a church.  I did not hear that anyone complained.

That isn't the case with a nearby elementary school that sent students to an outdoor camp that is owned by a religious organization.  According to the short video at the link, the camp hosts over 4000 public school students each year.  One parent complained:
I am essentially being forced to support a religious organization.  While it does not teach Christian teachings, their mission is a Christian one and I really have no choice in the matter."
I disagree.  You could take that stick out of your butt and not be such a bigot--especially when you acknowledge that they're not proselytizing at all.  While you're at it, go enjoy a sandwich at Chick-fil-A.

Camp officials also say they don't teach anything religious, adding that their curriculum (which appears to be environmental) is secular.  When a small number of parents complained to the district, the district's legal counsel "thoroughly reviewed and vetted those concerns and found them to have no legal merit."  And this is the Sac City school district, not known to be even the slightest bit conservative- or Christian-leaning.

National Emergency

Anyone want to argue whether this statement is true or not?
There are currently 31 active national emergencies and 12 emergencies were declared by President Obama. Perhaps a bad precedent on executive power, but weird to blame Trump for it.
I'm curious what those 31 are.  I'm especially curious what the 12 were that were declared by President Obama, and why those screaming now weren't screaming then. 

You can argue that having too powerful an executive isn't a conservative viewpoint, and I agree with that, but you don't get to argue that only when the executive has an (R) after his/her name.

Voter ID Laws

Voter ID laws won't work until the voter rolls are cleaned up, but they're still better than not having voter ID laws.  No, they don't disenfranchise people, especially minorities:
The new Democratic majority is making a major push to outlaw states from asking their voters to show ID at the polls, arguing that such laws push minorities and older people from voting.

According to a major new study, they’re wrong — strict voter ID laws have no significant effect on voter turnout, don’t keep interested voters from being able to vote, and for that matter don’t prevent them from registering.

But at the same time, the laws also don’t appear to boost confidence in the voting system, the study concluded, undercutting the reasons some conservatives are eager to pass such laws.

“The bottom line is that we don’t find much of an effect either on participation or voter fraud,” said Vincent Pons, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School and a research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, which posted the new study this month.
What a silly thing to say. They're not designed to boost participation, they're designed to help ensure that the only people who vote are those entitled to vote.

Hypocrisy or Stupidity?

Embrace the power of "and":

Bolshevik Barbie’s so-called Green New Deal:  a job for everyone.

Also from Barbie:
Amazon Spox Blames Ocasio-Cortez For Company Scrapping Planned NY HQ: She’s ‘Never Amazon’
Let's face it, when you're a leftie and you've lost Cher...:
Are 25 Thousand New Jobs (Plus Thousands of Ancillary Jobs) Not a Good Idea For The Ppl Of NY⁉️

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Not Fooling Anyone

Who do they think is buying their lie?
After facing scrutiny and concerns, including from some state lawmakers, the University of Iowa has canceled a white privilege workshop scheduled for this month.

“Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion leadership became concerned that the confusion and misinformation surrounding the title of workshops could mar the event for this year’s attendees,” campus spokesperson Jeneane Beck told the Gazette. “As a result, the workshops for this spring were canceled to give the university the necessary time to meet with concerned stakeholders and address any concerns or misperceptions.”
There was no “confusion and misinformation”. The blatant racism was on display for all to see, and some of us don’t like racism in any form.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Diluting the Value of a High School Diploma

When my parents graduated from high school in the early 1960s, a diploma had some value.  By the time I graduated in the early 1980s, the value of a diploma had gone down somewhat but it wasn't worthless.  Today, with grade inflation and "credit recovery" replacing actual learning, there isn't much value left in a diploma.  If everyone earns one, how can one have any worth at all?  There's such a push to increase graduation rates--but no real push to increase learning:
Last month, the Department of Education released data showing that, yet again, American high school graduation rates have increased. This sparked a wave of celebratory press coverage across the country. But US News issued a note of caution: “Graduation Rate Up, But Not Enough.” In it, education reform advocates lament that the graduation rate didn’t rise faster.

But perhaps the bad news is the fact that it’s still rising. There are several compelling reasons to fear that graduation inflation is harming at-risk students of color, even if they rarely feature in the public debate.

First, few who are paying close attention believe that rising graduation rates represent genuine academic progress. Test scores are stagnant or declining, so how are graduation rates up?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Didn't Have To Be Sad For Too Long

Yes, I felt some sadness as my car of 12 years was driven away last night by a new owner.  That sadness was mitigated, somewhat, by the new addition to the family that I brought home a few minutes ago:

There's going to be some camping accomplished this summer.

Update, 2/18/19:  The dealership wanted anywhere from $800-$1500 to install side rails.  I got these for about $150 from Amazon and a friend from work helped me install them on Saturday:

And this afternoon I moved some stuff around in my garage (and got rid of some stuff, too) and now The Battlestar will actually fit in the garage--with a few inches to spare.

Life is good.

Monday, February 11, 2019

I Feel Sad

12 years and 2 months ago, I bought a Toyota Camry.  It was the 4th primary vehicle I've ever owned, and it was a year old when I bought it, having been a Hertz rental.  It had over 25,000 miles on it when I bought it, and a few minutes ago a teenager drove it away with just over 138,000 miles on it.

Yes, I've replaced tires, oil, headlight and taillight bulbs, and maybe a belt--but that car still pretty much runs like it did the day I bought it.

Not many sedans would pull a trailer:

I hope the new owner will get the same enjoyment and reliability out of it that I did.

Maybe I won't feel so sad tomorrow after work, when I go to pick up my new pickup.  It's a 2017 Ram 1500 with under 200 miles on it from the dealer (long story).  It'll tow my new (to me) 20' trailer, and that's what I bought it for.

Teachers Cast Off Saintly Garb To Punish Students For Wrongthink

We teachers, and others who work with children, like to think of ourselves as being wonderful people who would do anything to help "the children".  Not always true, obviously:
Shortly after President Trump’s inauguration, a group of public school history teachers in the posh Boston suburb of Newton pledged to reject the “call for objectivity” in the classroom, bully conservative students for their beliefs, and serve as “liberal propagandist[s]” for the cause of social justice.

This informal pact was made in an exchange of emails among history teachers at Newton North High School, part of a very rich but academically mediocre public school district with an annual budget of $200 million, a median home price of almost half a million, and a median household income of more than $120,000. Read the entire email exchange here.

I obtained the emails under a Massachusetts public records law after one of those teachers arranged, earlier this year, for an anti-Semitic and anti-Israel organization to show Palestinian propaganda films at Newton North. This stunt earned the Newton Public Schools district a rebuke from the New England branch of the Anti-Defamation League and from Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council. But, as the teachers’ emails reveal, Jew-hatred is not the only specter haunting the history department at Newton North...

(Teacher) Ibokette was having none of it. He typed this reply: “I am concerned that the call for ‘objectivity’ may just inadvertently become the most effective destructive weapon against social justice,” and sent it to the members of Newton North’s history department.

Ibokette was responding to an email from another Newton North history teacher, David Bedar. Bedar was same teacher who hosted the anti-Semites at Newton North, and has played a significant role in the years-long controversy over anti-Jewish bias in the public schools of the heavily Jewish suburb.

Earlier that February day, Bedar sent an email to fellow Newton North history faculty, accusing President Trump and his supporters of “nativism, xenophobia, homophobia, etc.,” and objecting to the following “don’ts” that the Newton North principal had asked teachers to avoid...

Yet, in remarkable language, Bedar demanded that the school allow him to propagandize against it, and to do so without any professional consequences: “I have an obligation to teach civic duty and teach kids right and wrong, and about social justice. . . . This will probably be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t actually think we should have the option of not discussing [social justice] issues. I feel responsible for doing so. . . . We can help kids interpret the lessons of the past better than anybody. I feel like a phony when I’m not doing that. . . . But..this is hard. I don’t want to get fired for being a liberal propagandist” (emphasis added).

(The article's author then talks about his schooling in the Soviet Union.)  Undaunted by the failures of their comrades in the Soviet Union and other socialist hell-holes, left-wing activists are dug in at all stages of the American educational process from preschool to graduate school, where they seek to replicate the Soviet Union’s abuse of its children’s minds with lurid lies.
I encourage you to read the whole thing.