Posted in America, tagged America, Atlanta, Atlanta Cheating Scandal, Atlanta Schools, Cheating, Christian Science Monitor, Public Education, Standardized Tests, Teachers on July 5, 2011 |
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From Atlanta comes a deeply disturbing story about a massive cheating scandal to achieve higher scores on standardized tests. In this instance, however, the cheaters weren’t students — they were teachers, principals, and administrators.
In Georgia, as in many other states, student and teacher performance is measured by scores on a standardized test. In this instance, the test is called the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test. In recent years, Atlanta schools reported increases in scores on the test, winning accolades for the Atlanta school district and its superintendent, who was named “U.S. Superintendent of the Year” in 2009. Now investigators have unearthed evidence of a massive conspiracy in which teachers, principals, and administrators not only changed answers to achieve better scores, but also worked actively to cover up the cheating. The report by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation names 178 teachers and administrators who participated — 82 of whom have confessed to their misdeeds — in a scandal that took place at 44 different schools.
According to the Christian Science Monitor article linked above, reports of teacher cheating have been increasingly commonplace across America. Atlanta’s scholastic scandal is just the largest example of a growing problem. Educational advocates say the reports show that standardized testing is not a panacea, because tying school district funding and individual teacher compensation to higher scores just provides an incentive to cheat. So, they recommend that school districts implement much more involved auditing of the completed standardized tests.
The Atlanta scandal is a black eye for the many dedicated and selfless teachers in America, and it raises a very basic, troubling question for public school parents across the country: What kind of people are teaching my kids?
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Posted in America, Politics, The Economy, tagged America, Council of Economic Advisers, Economists, economy, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, stimulus, stimulus spending, The Weekly Standard on July 5, 2011 |
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President Obama’s “stimulus” package has been dogged by controversy since its enactment. There have been questions about the accuracy of reports of jobs “saved or created” by the stimulus spending, claims that the money really was used mostly to maintain public employee jobs and to allow state governments to defer their own deficit-reduction efforts, and an admission by President Obama that there were no “shovel-ready” projects to be funded, notwithstanding what was represented when the “stimulus” legislation was enacted.
The most recent analysis of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, released Friday, estimates that the “stimulus” has cost $666 billion and produced between 2.4 million and 3.6 million jobs. The 2.4 million jobs estimate was developed using the “CEA Multiplier Model” and the 3.6 million estimate was based on the “CEA Statistical Projection Approach.” Republicans and The Weekly Standard have used the lower estimate, divided it into the total cost of the “stimulus,” and concluded that each of the 2.4 million jobs cost the taxpayers $278,000. The White House responds that such an analysis is biased because it uses the lower jobs estimate and does not consider the tangible items that were built using “stimulus” funds. Whose spin is closer to the truth? When you consider that both jobs numbers are based on theoretical economic models and undertake the slippery task of estimating jobs “saved,” you may as well argue about how many economists can dance on the head of a pin.
Outside the Beltway, I think there is general consensus that the “stimulus” legislation did not deliver much bang for the buck. The “stimulus” was sold as a way to massively jump start the economy, prevent high unemployment, and ensure a speedy recovery. Those things clearly haven’t happened. We’ve spent more than half a trillion dollars and we are still facing a stagnant economy characterized by high unemployment and low growth. It’s as if we’ve gone on a bender, the intoxication has worn off, and we’ve now awakened to a painful hangover and a gigantic bar tab that we really couldn’t afford in the first place.
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Posted in TV, tagged Colin Cunningham, Falling Skies, Game of Thrones, John Pope, Lourdes, Moon Bloodgood, Noah Wyle, Seychelle Gabriel, TNT, TV, Will Patton on July 5, 2011 |
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With the end of the excellent first season of Game of Thrones, Kish and I have been looking for a new TV series to follow. Our rules for selection among the many different “summer shows” were simple: no medical examiner or police shows, no reality shows, and no silly shows about wacky lawyers who win a trial a week through their courtroom stunts.
We settled on TNT’s Falling Skies almost by default, and it is intriguing enough to keep watching. The show is the story of a hardy band of human resistance fighters in Massachusetts. They are dealing with the aftermath of a devastating alien invasion which saw the regular armed forces wiped out and countless humans massacred. The aliens, nicknamed “skitters,” also have enslaved many children through the use of a harness device that attaches to the spinal cord and allows the aliens to communicate with them. The skitters now are trying to hunt down the remaining humans with the help of mobile fighting devices called “mechs,” while the humans try to regroup in irregular groups of fighters and civilians and figure out how to fight back.
Noah Wyle has the lead as Tom Mason, a former military history professor who is the second-in-command of the Second Mass resistance fighters. Mason’s wife has been killed, his oldest son also is a fighter, his youngest son is trying to have a normal childhood amidst the devastation, and his middle son, Ben, is one of the harnessed children. The Second Mass is led by grizzled Captain Weaver, played by Will Patton, and also features kind pediatrician Anne Glass, played by Moon Bloodgood, a jack-of-all-trades schoolteacher, a cowardly surgeon, and and assortment of rugged fighters and children who are having to grow up too quickly.
Although some of developments have been predictable, the show has some surprises. Our favorite character so far is John Pope, who is very well played by Colin Cunningham. Pope is the bearded, long-haired, street smart but unscrupulous captured leader of a band of renegades who has figured out a lot about the skitters — including how to kill them — and can cook a darned good meal besides. Another interesting character is Lourdes, played by Seychelle Gabriel. Lourdes is unapologetic about her religious faith, even after the invasion has caused many survivors to give up on religion. It is unusual to see such a frank and positive portrayal of a religious person on network TV.
We’ll keep watching.
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