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Posts For: May 1, 2009

No Success Left Alone

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal picked up on a particularly tendentious story in the New York Times. Titled “‘No Child’ Law Is Not Closing a Racial Gap,” the Times begins this way:

The achievement gap between white and minority students has not narrowed in recent years, despite the focus of the No Child Left Behind law on improving the scores of blacks and Hispanics, according to results of a federal test considered to be the nation’s best measure of long-term trends in math and reading proficiency.

Reporter Sam Dillon of the Times goes on to write, “Between 2004 and last year, scores for young minority students increased, but so did those of white students, leaving the achievement gap stubbornly wide, despite President George W. Bush‘s frequent assertions that the No Child law was having a dramatic effect.”

The Times is (reluctantly) forced to concede that since 2004 the scores of nine and 13-year-old students have risen modestly in reading and risen considerably in math — and they are quite a bit higher than those of students of the same age a generation ago. “Still,” the Times says, “the progress of younger students tapered off as they got older.” Perhaps that is because, as Margaret Spellings, President Bush’s Secretary of Education in the second term, put it, “The law focuses on math and reading in grades three through eight — it’s not about high schools. So these results are affirming of our accountability-type approach.”

No Child Left Behind, while not a perfect law (none is), has been one of the genuinely innovative policy reforms of the last few decades and an impressive success. The data shows that. Students are learning more than they were, thanks to higher standards, transparency, and accountability in the system. This seems to upset people like Dillon — who has turned himself into a pretzel in an effort to try to make a success seem like a failure.

Mr. Dillon’s story also provides insight into a particular cast of mind. He appears to be far more concerned with the gap between white and minority students existing than with the fact that both whites and minority students improved their performance. Would Dillon have been more pleased if test scores for both white and minority students had gone down, but more for whites than for minority students, therefore narrowing the gap? Perhaps so. In any event, Dillon’s story highlights how much confused thinking permeates the education debate, including among those who report on it.

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal picked up on a particularly tendentious story in the New York Times. Titled “‘No Child’ Law Is Not Closing a Racial Gap,” the Times begins this way:

The achievement gap between white and minority students has not narrowed in recent years, despite the focus of the No Child Left Behind law on improving the scores of blacks and Hispanics, according to results of a federal test considered to be the nation’s best measure of long-term trends in math and reading proficiency.

Reporter Sam Dillon of the Times goes on to write, “Between 2004 and last year, scores for young minority students increased, but so did those of white students, leaving the achievement gap stubbornly wide, despite President George W. Bush‘s frequent assertions that the No Child law was having a dramatic effect.”

The Times is (reluctantly) forced to concede that since 2004 the scores of nine and 13-year-old students have risen modestly in reading and risen considerably in math — and they are quite a bit higher than those of students of the same age a generation ago. “Still,” the Times says, “the progress of younger students tapered off as they got older.” Perhaps that is because, as Margaret Spellings, President Bush’s Secretary of Education in the second term, put it, “The law focuses on math and reading in grades three through eight — it’s not about high schools. So these results are affirming of our accountability-type approach.”

No Child Left Behind, while not a perfect law (none is), has been one of the genuinely innovative policy reforms of the last few decades and an impressive success. The data shows that. Students are learning more than they were, thanks to higher standards, transparency, and accountability in the system. This seems to upset people like Dillon — who has turned himself into a pretzel in an effort to try to make a success seem like a failure.

Mr. Dillon’s story also provides insight into a particular cast of mind. He appears to be far more concerned with the gap between white and minority students existing than with the fact that both whites and minority students improved their performance. Would Dillon have been more pleased if test scores for both white and minority students had gone down, but more for whites than for minority students, therefore narrowing the gap? Perhaps so. In any event, Dillon’s story highlights how much confused thinking permeates the education debate, including among those who report on it.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The power of the minority is not insignificant: “Republicans are pushing the hot-button issue of what will be done about Guantanamo’s prisoners—so much so that Democrats signaled Thursday that they will likely drop language sought by the Pentagon to authorize the use of war funds to relocate the inmates.”

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brian Moran can no longer take Terry McAuliffe’s “sanctimonious rhetoric.” Yikes. You don’t think Democrats will hold all those nasty anti-Obama ads against McAuliffe, do you? Well the crowd seemed to enjoy Moran’s blast, if that is any indication of how the primary base feels.

This critique of French vs. American economic systems is fantastique. (Too bad she was born in France or she could run in 2012.)

Could the Guantanamo closing and CIA interrogation memo dump have rubbed voters the wrong way? “Just 42% of likely voters now believe the United States and its allies are winning the War on Terror, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. That’s down from 50% two weeks ago, down from 62% in early February, and is the lowest level of confidence since June 30, 2008.” Republicans are ready to pounce.

Senate Republicans catch a break (or make their own): Jim Bunning has succumbed to pressure and will retire.

And another possible contender, Republican Mark Kirk, is very competitive in Illinois.

Probably not a photo New Jersery Governor Jon Corzine will use in his campaign ads.

Meanwhile, the GOP primary is heating up. Probably not a good move for the underdog Steve Lonegan, who is positioning himself as the hardcore conservative, to come up with a plan that will increase taxes. (Sounding weirdly like what you’d hear from a Democrat,”Lonegan acknowledged that many people – about 50 percent – would be paying higher taxes, but said the flat tax would stabilize the state’s economy.”) Or New Jersey could cut spending, attract new business, and get the public employee unions under control to “stabilize” the economy.

It is still a lot of people, but the act is losing it’s appeal: “President Obama drew 28.8 million viewers for his third prime-time news conference, which was a 29 percent drop from his second, according to Nielsen. And to compare, the first of his presidency drew 49.5 million viewers.” Given that FOX made the right business call not covering it, how many more of these will the other networks agree to carry?

Because they solved all the really big problems already: “Schools with vending machines that sell candy and soda to students could soon find the government requiring healthier options to combat childhood obesity under a bill introduced on Thursday by two senators.” Hey, if the president tells us to cover our mouths when we sneeze and the Senate tells kids what to eat, all the House need do is tuck us in at night.

Speaking of problems, the Washington Post editors take their whack at Joe Biden: “No doubt America’s airlines are at the front of the line of those eager to send the vice president back to his work on high-speed rail service or nuclear nonproliferation or whatever he does when not issuing misguided public health advice.” I think that would be taunting the Chief Justice in public and pinching pennies on his charitable donations.

Another good reason why these things should be left to bankruptcy judges: “It’s especially rich for Mr. Obama to blast the creditors for seeking ‘an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout’ while offering the UAW a 55% majority stake in Chrysler. He also praised the large banks that hold most of the Chrysler debt and supported the government plan. But of course J.P. Morgan and the other big banks are also recipients of billions of dollars in taxpayer cash and have a strong interest in playing nice with their creditor, Uncle Sam Obama.”

The power of the minority is not insignificant: “Republicans are pushing the hot-button issue of what will be done about Guantanamo’s prisoners—so much so that Democrats signaled Thursday that they will likely drop language sought by the Pentagon to authorize the use of war funds to relocate the inmates.”

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brian Moran can no longer take Terry McAuliffe’s “sanctimonious rhetoric.” Yikes. You don’t think Democrats will hold all those nasty anti-Obama ads against McAuliffe, do you? Well the crowd seemed to enjoy Moran’s blast, if that is any indication of how the primary base feels.

This critique of French vs. American economic systems is fantastique. (Too bad she was born in France or she could run in 2012.)

Could the Guantanamo closing and CIA interrogation memo dump have rubbed voters the wrong way? “Just 42% of likely voters now believe the United States and its allies are winning the War on Terror, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. That’s down from 50% two weeks ago, down from 62% in early February, and is the lowest level of confidence since June 30, 2008.” Republicans are ready to pounce.

Senate Republicans catch a break (or make their own): Jim Bunning has succumbed to pressure and will retire.

And another possible contender, Republican Mark Kirk, is very competitive in Illinois.

Probably not a photo New Jersery Governor Jon Corzine will use in his campaign ads.

Meanwhile, the GOP primary is heating up. Probably not a good move for the underdog Steve Lonegan, who is positioning himself as the hardcore conservative, to come up with a plan that will increase taxes. (Sounding weirdly like what you’d hear from a Democrat,”Lonegan acknowledged that many people – about 50 percent – would be paying higher taxes, but said the flat tax would stabilize the state’s economy.”) Or New Jersey could cut spending, attract new business, and get the public employee unions under control to “stabilize” the economy.

It is still a lot of people, but the act is losing it’s appeal: “President Obama drew 28.8 million viewers for his third prime-time news conference, which was a 29 percent drop from his second, according to Nielsen. And to compare, the first of his presidency drew 49.5 million viewers.” Given that FOX made the right business call not covering it, how many more of these will the other networks agree to carry?

Because they solved all the really big problems already: “Schools with vending machines that sell candy and soda to students could soon find the government requiring healthier options to combat childhood obesity under a bill introduced on Thursday by two senators.” Hey, if the president tells us to cover our mouths when we sneeze and the Senate tells kids what to eat, all the House need do is tuck us in at night.

Speaking of problems, the Washington Post editors take their whack at Joe Biden: “No doubt America’s airlines are at the front of the line of those eager to send the vice president back to his work on high-speed rail service or nuclear nonproliferation or whatever he does when not issuing misguided public health advice.” I think that would be taunting the Chief Justice in public and pinching pennies on his charitable donations.

Another good reason why these things should be left to bankruptcy judges: “It’s especially rich for Mr. Obama to blast the creditors for seeking ‘an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout’ while offering the UAW a 55% majority stake in Chrysler. He also praised the large banks that hold most of the Chrysler debt and supported the government plan. But of course J.P. Morgan and the other big banks are also recipients of billions of dollars in taxpayer cash and have a strong interest in playing nice with their creditor, Uncle Sam Obama.”

Read Less




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