Friday, January 30, 2009

We Need Less Parental Involvement in Education

To the grade grubbers go the spoils. And the grade grubbers in this case are rabble-rousing parents in Virginia's Fairfax County. Residents of the high-powered Washington suburb have been battling the school district's tough grading practices; chief among their complaints is that a score of 93% gets recorded as a lowly B+. After forming an official protest group called Fairgrade last year and goading the school board into voting on whether to ease the standards, parents marshaled 10,000 signatures online and on Jan. 22 gathered nearly 500 supporters to help plead their case. After two hours of debate, the school board passed a resolution, a move critics consider a defeat in the war on grade inflation.

At most schools in the U.S., a score of 90 earns you an A, but in Fairfax County, getting the goods demands a full 94. Merely passing is tougher too, requiring a 64 rather than a 60. Nor do students get much help clearing those high bars if they take tougher courses. Compared with how many districts weight GPAs for Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses, Fairfax County's half-point boost is peanuts. The result, protesters say, is that Fairfax kids are at a disadvantage on multiple fronts: snagging good-driver insurance discounts (which often factor in a student's GPA), earning NCAA eligibility, winning merit scholarships and — oh yeah — getting into good colleges.


I'd rather hire a schmuck that could only manage a C average than some jerk who got politically active over his "right" to have a B read as an A.

But something tells me these brats are bound for government jobs.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Reign of Mouch

"Nobody professed to understand the question of the frozen railroad bonds; perhaps, because everybody understood it too well. At first, there had been signs of panic among the bondholders and of a dangerous indignation among the public. Then, Wesley Mouch had issued another directive, which ruled that people could get their bonds 'defrozen' upon plea of 'essential need': the government would purchase the bonds, if it found the proof of the need satisfactory. There were three questions that no one answered or asked: 'what constituted proof?' 'What constituted need?' 'Essential-- to whom?'"--Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

I first read that passage 11 years ago. I never thought I'd see it become US policy for two administrations.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gran Turino

A good flick...but you should ignore the Dirty-Harry ad campaign. This is the guy who gave us "Misty".

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Loyal Opposition, in Principle

From the Washington Post:
McConnell said he could support the $500 tax credit that Obama has proposed for working individuals. "This is the sort of thing we could have bipartisan agreement on," said McConnell. "Republicans, by and large, think tax relief is a great way to get money to people immediately."

He proposed further tax cuts, such as lowering the 25 percent individual tax rate to 15 percent. And McConnell identified stimulus flashpoints that are likely to galvanize Republicans in the weeks ahead.

The GOP leader derided Obama's goal of creating 600,000 new government jobs as part of the 3 million workforce expansion that he wants the stimulus to help achieve. "That's about the size of the post office workforce," McConnell said. "Is that a good idea?"

He challenged another proposal to provide grants to hard-hit states. Such aid should come in the form of loans, McConnell said, as "it will make them spend it more wisely."

And McConnell downplayed prospects for extending unemployment benefits to part-time workers while providing health care coverage for unemployed people -- costly efforts that have met stiff resistance in past debates.

"Those are very big, systemic changes," McConnell said. "Do we in the name of stimulus want to make long-term, systemic changes that will affect spending every single year? I think that's at least worth considering, having hearings about, having bipartisan discussions."

But McConnell also predicted the bill could pass overwhelmingly if the current conciliatory mood holds, giving Obama a crucial first win. "If they pursue a fair process, in the Senate at least, where fairness is typically the rule, and give both sides an opportunity to have input . . . he's likely to get significant support."

This has been going on for a week, the Republican push to get a foot in the door on the Second Bailout.

It sounds more like they want a share of the pork, rather than killing the bill.

This panic is recurrent; we'll be here again, and preventing the market from forming new more effective combinations won't promote progress.

Maybe somebody will form a party around sense?