Alex, the question is, “What is a high school diploma?”
Continuing a theme Apollo began, Andy Ferguson looks at the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and at high schools nationally, where students take supposedly tougher courses and get higher grades (emphasis mine):
These findings would be wonderful news — more studying, tougher coursework, and higher grades all at once — were it not for a more sobering fact that the NAEP draws our attention to: There has been no improvement in the students’ ability to read, write, or do math.
Scores on standardized reading tests, in fact, show an actual decline since 1992, to 285 from 290 by NAEP’s assessment. A similar decline has been evident in knowledge of science. Math achievement of high school students has been harder to compare from year to year, but scores have been little changed at best.
It turns out that “A Nation at Risk” did spur a revolution in American high schools. It just wasn’t the kind of revolution we might have expected. In place of reform at the high school level, we got an elaborate confidence game — an extended period of grade inflation to disguise the failures of schools, parents, teachers, and students themselves.
There has already been evidence that grades were being artificially pumped up.
Even as GPAs have continued to rise, one out of every four college freshmen has to take remedial courses in basics like reading and math; in two-year colleges, more than 40% of first-year students need remedial work. A study last year by ACT, a nonprofit testing firm, found that only 51% of test-taking high school seniors were prepared to read at the college level.
Kevin Carey, research and policy manager for Education Sector, an independent research organization in Washington, points out that only 75 out of every 100 kids who enter ninth-grade graduate four years later.
“The achievement scores at 12th grade would be a lot lower, except that they don’t include the 25 percent of kids who drop out and never even get that far,” he says. “It actually paints a rosier picture of how well kids are being prepared for 12th grade than it would otherwise.”
This sounds about right, sadly enough.
Ferguson’s solution has undertones of Dante:
In the meantime, this unhappy status quo leaves reformers with little to work with other than the power of publicity, hectoring, and persuasion. Threats might work, too. Here’s one: Tell kids they better study harder or they’ll end up with a depressing job — like working for the NAEP, compiling statistics about the next generation of kids like them.
Mr. Ferguson, if you’ll be writing a Divine Comedy any time soon, please don’t tell me what my damnation will look like.
Hubbard posted this at 2:18 PM CDT on Wednesday, February 28th, 2007 as Edjamacation
The nice thing about Investor’s Business Daily is that they tend to avoid series and give you a complete set. Thomas Sowell has written, essentially, a four part book review of Supreme Conflict. You can read it all here. Some choice excerpts:
Even Ronald Reagan, so eloquent against group preferences and quotas, announced that he was going to appoint “a woman” to the Supreme Court during the 1980 election campaign — and later looked for a woman to appoint.
That is how a mid-level state court judge with no experience in the federal judiciary became Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Yet no one said that she was “unqualified” as they would later say of Clarence Thomas, whose credentials greatly outweighed hers.
Now, a quarter of a century later, Sandra Day O’Connor’s legacy of incoherent Supreme Court opinions on such issues as affirmative action and abortion have made a mockery of the very concept of law.
No one has been denigrated and demonized by this mind-set more than Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The charge has been endlessly repeated that he is “not qualified” — with no evidence being offered or asked for.
His outstanding academic record in college, his graduation from one of the top law schools in the country, his experience as an attorney both in government and in the corporate world, his years of heading a federal agency and his service as a judge on the most influential federal circuit court in the country count for nothing, as far as the left is concerned.
Many, if not most, Supreme Court justices have not had as good a record of qualifications. But Thomas is considered “unqualified” because those on the left cannot accept his qualifications without a major shock to their whole vision of the world — and of themselves.
Although Supreme Court justices have lifetime tenure, precisely in order to give them independence, nothing can give anyone the backbone and character to stand up to criticism or to resist the blandishments of flattery and lionizing.
All the pressures are to move to the left, in accordance with the views of the liberal media and the liberal professors who dominate the law schools.
Judges who stick to the Constitution as it was written and resist the pressures to enact the agenda of the left from the bench will be depicted as narrow, dull, perhaps even stupid or morally lacking. But those who drift with the leftward tide can count on being portrayed as compassionate, brilliant or even profound.
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s over-sensitive reactions to criticisms of her decisions by dissenting justices — whether William Brennan on the left or Antonin Scalia on the right — also comes out in “Supreme Conflict.”
Even after her retirement, Justice O’Connor refused to deal with the substance of Justice Scalia’s criticisms, on grounds that he apparently did not express them nicely enough for her taste. Whether those criticisms were valid seems not to have been her concern.
Senate Democrats went all out to stop the nomination of Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court and to try to stop the nomination of Judge Clarence Thomas. These Democrats did not let either truth or decency cramp their style.
But Republicans voted overwhelmingly to confirm liberal-left nominees Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer when Bill Clinton nominated them. The Senate vote was 87-9 for Breyer and 96-3 for Ginsburg.
No need to savage either nominee, but they should have been voted against — and the reasons for those votes explained to the public. Otherwise Democrats define what is a “mainstream” judge.
Republicans need to rethink their views on judges — or perhaps to really think for the first time.
After her invitation to join the Council on Foreign Relations, Angelina Jolie has now published an op-ed in the Post on Darfur. If politics really is showbiz for the ugly, what happens when the pretty get involved?
Apollo posted this at 9:34 AM CDT on Wednesday, February 28th, 2007 as Politics
The New York Times, as though willfully blind to the forces against whom we war, publishes a troubling dispatch from the Animal Kingdom, apparently massing at an unknown location for a stinger-filled attack:
VISALIA, Calif., Feb. 23 — David Bradshaw has endured countless stings during his life as a beekeeper, but he got the shock of his career when he opened his boxes last month and found half of his 100 million bees missing.
In 24 states throughout the country, beekeepers have gone through similar shocks as their bees have been disappearing inexplicably at an alarming rate, threatening not only their livelihoods but also the production of numerous crops, including California almonds, one of the nation’s most profitable.
“I have never seen anything like it,” Mr. Bradshaw, 50, said from an almond orchard here beginning to bloom. “Box after box after box are just empty. There’s nobody home.”
The sudden mysterious losses are highlighting the critical link that honeybees play in the long chain that gets fruit and vegetables to supermarkets and dinner tables across the country.
Beekeepers have fought regional bee crises before, but this is the first national affliction.
Now, in a mystery worthy of Agatha Christie, bees are flying off in search of pollen and nectar and simply never returning to their colonies. And nobody knows why.
Arlington residents could pay as much as $26 more on electricity and natural gas bills next year if the County Board decides to include $1.5 million for the environmental initiative in its spending package, which the board will consider in April.
The county is in the middle of a major push to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent by 2012, and the “modest” utility tax may encourage residents to curb consumption, County Manager Ron Carlee said. Officials are also planning a tax break for the 1,000 owners of hybrid vehicles in the county.
Or it may encourage me to move elsewhere before I find myself living in Berkley East. The only Republican elected official in the county is on the school board, which is non-partisan, and the county voted 67% for John Kerry, giving him a higher percentage of the vote than it gave Clinton (60.5% in 1996, when Clinton, you know, won), so I don’t think trends look good here.
“I think of my grandfather, the son of a slave, the son of a man who was bought and sold in that horrific manner, and my grandfather opened up a grocery store and took care of his family and raised 17 children,” Sharpton said.
“That’s what his generation did. Now what are we going to do? Are we a generation that wants to be defined by nothing more than using the n-word and having all this gangster attitude? This information doesn’t just put the responsibility on society, it puts the responsibility on me. On us.”
Well that would be touching coming from someone who didn’t have a history of inciting riots and using the absolute basest sorts of racial demagoguery to force a political party to give him handouts. Instead it comes off as a perversion of the classic American success story. From small businessman to racist mob leader in only two generations: A True American Success.
It would be super spiffy if the media would portray Al Sharpton as the thug that he is and cease their role as enablers.
Apollo posted this at 10:00 AM CDT on Tuesday, February 27th, 2007 as Journalism, Race
Reading Julia Duin’s series, part II published today, the phrase “Culture of Death” comes to mind. When human life is not valued—when we make a false distinction between the fundamental worth of men and of women or of born and of unborn—we begin a vicious cycle. Human beings are only a few steps away from barbarism at best. Here’s how a casual disregard for life begins:
“Post World War II, the world had this concept of hyperbreeding in India,” Dr. Bedi says. “Everyone felt there were too many people in Asia.
“If you saw the Malthusian projections from the 1950s, everyone thought India and China would take over the world. So it was birth control at any cost in India and China.”
Several American foundations — he specifies MacArthur, Ford and Packard — sank money into Third World birth-control programs and predictably, India began its first family-planning program in 1952.
“But what they ran into was son preference,” says Dr. Bedi. “Everyone had to have two sons in case one died. So the average family size remained at four or five children. The government was under pressure to do something.”
The only way to control population was to somehow guarantee sons. By the 1970s, women could determine their child’s sex through amniocentesis. Although India outlawed this at government hospitals in 1979, “the private clinics had discovered this gold mine,” he said. Ultrasound machines became popularized in the mid-1980s.
“Feticide was invented, touted and sold by the medical profession, and it operates with the complete consent of all factors of our society,” Dr. Bedi says. “Abortion has been sold as a patriotic duty. So, killing female babies was an extension of that.
“At least in Europe and North America, there’s some guilt connected with an abortion. Here, there’s not. We call them ‘coffee-bar abortions’; she comes in for an abortion and relaxes at a coffee bar afterwards,” he says, waving an arm toward young couples gathered at nearby tables.
“By the early 1990s, no one who didn’t want a daughter needed to have one.”
But the violence doesn’t stop with the unborn. Born daughters are left to die. And daughters who do not produce sons?
As for the bride’s in-laws, they wanted her to produce sons. In that, Mrs. Hitkari failed. Instead, she had two daughters: Himadri, now 5-1/2, and Pari, 18 months. Her husband began berating her, demanding more dowry. When Mrs. Hitkari put Himadri into a school, her mother-in-law criticized her for educating a girl.
On July 23, Mrs. Hitkari’s parents say, the mother-in-law and husband beat the woman senseless, then hanged her by a noose from a shower head. The bride’s brother, Navneet Chandra, happened to drop by the home and, glancing through an open door to the bathroom, was horrified to see his sister hanging there.
While the brother was trying to free his sister from the noose, Mr. Kumar was pulling on his wife’s legs to try to tighten its grip. Only when Mr. Chandra’s shouts roused the neighbors did the tug of war stop.
Mrs. Hitkari remained in a coma for six weeks, her story the stuff of local newspaper headlines. She came home to her family Sept. 18, able to sit up but not stand. Her movements were feeble; she could not speak and appeared to have suffered brain damage.
The 30-year-old woman now sits in a stark bedroom at her parents’ home, a blank expression in her brown eyes. Her daughters mill about, trying to attract her attention.
Her father, Ramesh Chandra, is retired and cannot afford $4,500 for the kind of physical therapy she will need to recover.
And despite widespread publicity, local police have not made any arrests.
It seems a barbaric hypothetical, that if Mrs. Hitkari had aborted Himadri and Pari, she would not today be brain-damaged. Perhaps the western way of thinking about abortion, as “choice,” dangerously narrows our thinking about it. Perhaps we need to start thinking of abortion as a human rights issue. Perhaps abortion is a sign of a deeper problem; perhaps the problem is cultural. Don’t women deserve better?
Hubbard posted this at 8:08 AM CDT on Tuesday, February 27th, 2007 as Veiled Threats
Disciplinary hearing set for cab driver accused of homicide attempt
By CHRISTIAN BOTTORFF Staff Writer
A disciplinary hearing is set for tomorrow for the Nashville taxi driver who is accused of trying to run over two students after a heated discussion over religion last week.
The hearing for driver Ibrahim Sheikh Ahmed, 37, is on the agenda of the 1:30 p.m. meeting Tuesday of the Metro Transportation Licensing Commission.
Ahmed was arrested Feb. 18 on charges of criminal homicide after police said he hit Ohio student Jeremie Invus with his United Cab Co. van. Ahmed is in the Metro Jail awaiting trial.
Another student, Andrew Nelson of Dayton, Ohio, dodged the van as it sped toward them.
According to a police report, the three men had a conversation about religion while in the taxi that “became heated.” Shortly after the men paid Ahmed, he chased them in his van across the parking lot and over a curb, police said.
Metro police spokeswoman Kris Mumford said one of the students is Catholic and the other is Lutheran. Mumford said that Ahmed’s religion was not known.
Ahmed has had at least two other run-ins with police during the past year, including a high-speed chase through Nashville in his taxi, according to Metro police reports.
They don’t know what religion Ibrahim Sheilkh Ahmed practices? Really? I’m all for journalistic integrity but this is a bit absurd. Use deductive reasoning here 1) Arabic Name 2) Uses violence to solve religions issues. Yeah I’m guessing he’s Catholic.
Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam write about a proposed “respect conservatism” that could win it for Rudy. I link to the second page because on the first they sillily say that Rudy’s making a mistake by not coming out with policy specifics yet–it’s frickin’ February ’07!
It seems that they’re referring to what would have once been called a “law and order Republican,” with an emphasis on order: cleaning up the bureaucracy, imposing some (any!) semblance of order on immigration, ending government race preferences, and attacking (but doing what about?) single motherhood and family decay. I also think this is already the stuff that Rudy has said he will do or has done in the past. It’s a nifty writer’s trick they pull: they’re attacking the candidate for not taking positions, they then describe positions the candidate has previously taken as those that the candidate needs to take, and, I can only guess, will give themselves mild pats on the back when Rudy says something against racial preferences (something he fought for eight years as mayor) or in favor of greater emphasis on immigrant assimilation (which he’s commented on extensively).
As this New York Magazine piece describes, though, a Rudy candidacy is not going to be a normal candidacy. What the NYM piece misses is how important his mayoralty was in New York, really transforming not just the city but it’s entire politics. That’s an achievement, of the sort that no other candidate can point to. His elevation to icon on 9/11 tops that off and makes many of his pre-9/11 faults unassailable. He may be the first larger-than-life presidential candidate since Ike, and I’m not really sure the chattering class is prepared for that.
If you tie the NYM and the Douthat and Salam pieces together, I think it shows a balanced and accurate view of how a Giuliani canidacy will look. He will start to talk about more specifics in a few months, and they will be issues of order for a country that is starting to feel a little disorderly.
Apollo posted this at 2:40 PM CDT on Monday, February 26th, 2007 as Politics
What does the situation of Indian women tell us? Well, we can start with folk wisdom:
“Raising a daughter is like watering your neighbor’s garden.” — Punjabi saying
And how does modernity fit in?
Later, back at the wedding hall, the bride’s father, Amarjit Singh, reveals he has given a refrigerator, TV, washing machine, clothes and a DVD player to the family of the groom.
“This is not dowry,” he protests, “these are just gifts the father likes to give for his daughter.”
Miss Kaur is his only daughter and later that evening, she sits in her family’s living room as guest after guest shoves stacks of rupees into her purse. Eventually, a car pulls up containing the groom’s family. Wailing and clutching her parents for the last time, she slowly marches toward the waiting car that will bear her 30 miles southward to Yamunanagar, the city where her new husband’s family lives.
“Indian brides handle these partings with great theatrics, often wailing uncontrollably,” observed American journalist Elisabeth Bumiller in her 1990 book on the trials of Indian women, “May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons.” “I decided this was the only rational response, given what was in store for many of them,” she said.
What are the statistics?
Female infanticide — whereby tiny girls were either poisoned, buried alive or strangled — has existed for thousands of years in India. But its boy-to-girl ratio didn’t begin to widen precipitously until the advent of the ultrasound, or sonogram, machine in the 1970s, enabling a woman to tell the sex of her child by the fourth month of her pregnancy.
That coupled with the legalization of abortion in 1971 made it possible to dispose of an unwanted girl without the neighbors even knowing the mother was pregnant. In 2001, 927 girls were born for every 1,000 boys, significantly below the natural birth rate of about 952 girls for every 1,000 boys.
In many regions, however, this imbalance has reached alarming levels and it continues to grow. In 2004, the New Delhi-based magazine Outlook reported, sex ratios in the capital had plummeted to 818 girls for every 1,000 boys, and in 2005 they had slipped to 814.
Is it just the Hindus?
Dowries are theoretically banned under the 1961 Dowry Prohibition Act, but enforcement is poor and other religious groups such as Muslims and Christians have been caught up in the custom.
Sister Mary says that if she were to get married, her Catholic family would have to pay up.
A Sept. 29 article in the Times of India front-paged its account of a Muslim family in New Delhi that dumped a new daughter-in-law within 24 hours after the wedding because the dowry was not big enough.
The groom said he wanted about $4,400 more “as well as a Pulsar [motor] bike,” the bride told the newspaper.
So what does the excess of abortion do the women who make it to adulthood?
Richer men will be able to get themselves wives; what’s troubling to Ms. Chowdhry are the poorer men who are importing brides from India’s poor eastern regions.
“These women are extensively sexually exploited,” she says. “They do all the housework, manual and field work. Some of these women, once they are used by a man, they are passed on to another.”
Pregnant women wishing to avoid having daughters who might suffer such a fate are desperate to find doctors who will tell them the sex of their children.
“Mobile vans have advertisements on them that a doctor is available,” Ms. Chowdhry says. “They are innocuous, but everyone knows what’s inside.”
So abortion leads to abortion. At the very end of this article, you find one well-meaning doctor who neverthless states: “Of my 10 first cousins in Punjab, no one has had a daughter in 10 years,” he says. “You hope someone else would be stupid enough to produce a girl but not you.” If there’s any hope, it looks like we’ll have to wait for the next 3 parts of the series.
Hubbard posted this at 10:41 AM CDT on Monday, February 26th, 2007 as Veiled Threats
E.J. Dionne this morning continues with one of the media’s Big Lies: that the administration sought to “smear” it’s “critic,” Joe Wilson because Wilson threatened their obsession with invading Iraq.
The evidence presented at the Libby trial has demonstrated how worried Cheney was that this scheme could unravel. Thanks to Patrick Fitzgerald, the painstaking prosecutor, we know that Cheney was beside himself over former ambassador Joseph Wilson’s July 6, 2003, New York Times op-ed article undercutting the administration’s claim that Saddam Hussein had sought nuclear materials in Niger.
Hmmm…Why was Dick Cheney “beside himself?” You could believe that it’s because he was irrationally obsessed with a invading a harmless country, or you could believe that it’s because Wilson published an op-ed saying he was sent to Niger in response to questions from Cheney, yet Cheney did not find out about Wilson’s trip until he read the story in the paper himself. That’d make me plenty irate. Dionne is not much concerned by the fact that the “smear” against Wilson–that he was unqualified and only went because his wife inserted herself into politics and recommended him–is true. Nor does he mention the fact that Wilson’s New York Times piece contained numerous lies. Nor does he mention that Mrs. Wilson wasn’t “outed” by partisan Bush aparachiks, but by a non-partisan bureaucrat who got really pissed off about Wilson misrepresenting himself.
Whatever price Scooter Libby pays, the country is already paying for the divisive practices of a crowd that wanted to go to war in Iraq in the very worst way — and did exactly that. As a result, we confront the mess in Baghdad and the continued threat of terrorism as an angry, polarized nation.
What about the destructive practices of the CIA, which sent a lying, unqualified partisan hack to investigate important claims in Niger, which allowed him to publish an op-ed about the report before the vice-president heard about it, which allowed him to lie in that op-ed, and which, over the last four years has leaked anti-administration news on a pretty consistent basis? We can always throw elected politicians out of office (the single most inconvenient fact for Democrats is that Bush was reelected after invading Iraq), but what can we do about the nation’s top intelligence agency when, already incompetent, it goes rogue?
It would be better to be in this war without the CIA than to have a CIA that is nearly always lying, misleading, being wrong, or some combination of the three.
Apollo posted this at 10:36 AM CDT on Monday, February 26th, 2007 as Politics
The prestigious Council on Foreign Relations is about to get a jolt of sex appeal.
The exclusive, Manhattan-based foreign-policy group has decided to admit actress Angelina Jolie, a U.N. goodwill ambassador who has taken more than 30 trips worldwide to advocate for refugees, AIDS orphans and disaster victims.
On Friday night, the council’s membership accepted Jolie’s nomination – meaning she will soon be rubbing elbows with other club members such as Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell and Alan Greenspan.
The group requires no academic credentials but looks for members who take part in world affairs.
Many current members call Jolie qualified and support her induction.
“Bring her on,” said Dr. Gordon Adams, an international-affairs professor. “The idea of having Henry Kissinger and Angelina Jolie in the same organization is dazzling.”
Member Carol Adelman, former head of U.S. foreign-aid programs, said, “It’s not like Paris Hilton is being nominated.”