A Private Model for Learning
A. Barton Hinkle, Reason Magazine
Mariah Kelley was 14 credits short, weeks from giving birth, and seemingly light-years from getting a high school diploma when she was referred to the Performance Learning Center, which is located in a gritty industrial section of Richmond, Virginia. A public-private partnership between the Richmond Public Schools and the Richmond affiliate of Communities in Schools, the Performance Learning Center takes the longest of long shots and, through individually tailored instructions, gets them to pay off -- again and again. The average GPA of an entering student is zero-point-nine. The percentage of students who leave with a high-school diploma is 96. A third go on to post-secondary education. "We know that kids can change their lives if given the opportunity," says Wes Hamner, the school's academic coordinator. The problem isn't innate ability; it's taking kids who derailed somewhere along the way and getting them back on the track to success. Entire library floors groan under the weight of proposals for improving the schools. But education reform confronts a dilemma that better schools alone can't fix.
Envy vs. Achievement
Jaana Woiceshyn, Capitalism Magazine
Envy is one of the most useless of feelings, both in our private and business lives. Yet many people experience it, at least from time to time. They envy their neighbor's fancy car and exotic vacations, or wealth in general. They envy their friends' educational achievements or the praise they receive for being high achievers. Or they envy their acquaintance's acumen and success in business. The higher someone's achievements, the more they are envied by others. Take "the 1%," the top income earners in the world, for instance. I doubt that 99% of the people envy them--I certainly don't--but many people do. Where does envy come from, and why is it a waste of time? Envy is a thoroughly second-handed feeling. Instead of focusing on their own lives--how to make them better and how to achieve their goals through their own effort, enviers dwell on what others' have and what they themselves do not. Instead of admiring achievers, being grateful, and wanting to emulate them, enviers focus on the negative: what they themselves lack but others have. Enviers feel sorry for themselves.
Why Would a Republican Love
the Common Core Standards?
Dr. Susan Berry, Breitbart.com
In a Politico Magazine op-ed on Thursday, Republican strategist Rich Galen attempts to educate "the right" about why it should "love the Common Core." From the get-go, Galen misses the boat on who doesn't love the Common Core standards. Opponents of the initiative come from both the right and the left. Taking the "Come on – how bad could Common Core be?" approach, Galen explains that Common Core is simply a "college-prep set of skills" that "will provide a foundation for students to go in any career direction." "This is so transparently a good thing that it's hard to figure out why anyone would be opposed. That's especially true for conservatives, who have long believed our education system is underperforming; that student progress needs to be measured; and that teachers and school superintendents should be accountable for better outcomes in the classroom." Let's take these statements one at a time. First, it's somewhat amazing that Galen would use the word "transparently" in a statement about the Common Core.
Next Up: TV Ads Just for You, Dear Voter
Philip Elliott, The St. Louis Post Dispatch
The days when political campaigns would try to make inroads with demographic groups such as soccer moms or white working-class voters are gone. Now, the operatives are targeting specific individuals. And, in some places, they can reach those individuals directly through their televisions. Welcome to Addressable TV, an emerging technology that allows advertisers _ Senate hopefuls and insurance companies alike _ to pay some broadcasters to pinpoint specific homes. Advertisers have long bought ads knowing that only a fraction of the audience was likely to respond to them. Allowing campaigns _ political or not _ to finely hone their TV pitches to individuals could let them more efficiently spend their advertising dollars. "With a traditional TV buy you can end up paying for a lot of eyeballs you don't care about," said Chauncey McLean, chief operating officer of the Analytics Media Group, an ad and data firm. "Addressable TV is a powerful tool for those that are equipped to use it. If you know who you want to talk to and what you want to say, you can be much more precise."
In Indiana, Parental Choice
Increases Parental Satisfaction
Jason Bedrick, The Cato Institute
Sometimes a study's findings are so obvious that it's almost embarrassing to report them. Drivers react slower when distracted, prolonged sitting increases fat, and yes, parents prefer choosing their children's school to having the government choose for them. But when even the president of the United States is spreading misinformation about the research on school choice, a high-quality study confirming what we already know (or should know) is a healthy contribution to the public discourse. On Tuesday, the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice released the results of the first-ever survey of parents of students participating in Indiana's school voucher and scholarship tax credit (STC) programs. Indiana's voucher program is the fastest growing in the nation, up from approximately 4,000 students two years ago to nearly 20,000 students in the 2013–14 academic year. Over the same period, the STC program grew from nearly 1,000 to nearly 3,000 students.
Police Kill 80YO in His Own Bed,
Don't Find Drugs They Sought
Zach Weissmueller, Reason Magazine
In the early morning hours of June 27, 2013, a team of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies pulled up to the home of Eugene Mallory, an 80-year-old retired engineer living in the rural outskirts of Los Angeles county with his wife Tonya Pate and stepson Adrian Lamos. The deputies crashed through the front gate and began executing a search warrant for methamphetamine on the property. Detective Patrick Hobbs, a self-described narcotics expert who claimed he "smelled the strong odor of chemicals" downwind from the house after being tipped off to illegal activity from an anonymous informant, spearheaded the investigation. When it was all over, Eugene Mallory died of six gunshot wounds from Sgt. John Bones' MP-5 9mm submachine gun. When a coroner arrived, he found the loaded .22 caliber pistol the two deputies claimed Mallory had pointed at them on the bedside table. Mallory had not fired a single shot. The raid turned up no evidence of methamphetamine on the property.
Scary 1929 Market Chart Gains Traction
Mark Hulbert, MarketWatch.com
There are eerie parallels between the stock market's recent behavior and how it behaved right before the 1929 crash. That at least is the conclusion reached by a frightening chart that has been making the rounds on Wall Street. The chart superimposes the market's recent performance on top of a plot of its gyrations in 1928 and 1929. The picture isn't pretty. And it's not as easy as you might think to wriggle out from underneath the bearish significance of this chart. I should know, because I quoted a number of this chart's skeptics in a column I wrote in early December. Yet the market over the last two months has continued to more or less closely follow the 1928-29 pattern outlined in that two-months-ago chart. If this correlation continues, the market faces a particularly rough period later this month and in early March. One of the biggest objections I heard two months ago was that the chart is a shameless exercise in after-the-fact retrofitting of the recent data to some past price pattern.
The Right To Take (Even Really Stupid) Risks
J.D. Tuccille, Reason Magazine
"What the hell am I doing?" Sooner or later most of us ask that same question. We ask it when we're doing something foolish, or brave, or unfamiliar, and we especially ask it when the situation goes sour--when we find ourselves airborne in late-morning traffic. And if we don't ask it of ourselves, somebody else is sure to do us the favor: "What the hell are you doing?" The question means that we're taking risks, trying something new, or just pushing the boundaries of our usual behavior. It means that we're living, not just existing; to pass through life without facing that question would imply a tightly constrained existence lacking risk and adventure. Not every situation that provokes the question is to our credit, of course. Sometimes we've made a mistake, sometimes we've embarrassed ourselves, and sometimes we've made a complete balls-up of a situation and we find ourselves staring up from the ground into the face of an Emergency Medical Technician. But it's important to remember that while everybody has the right to ask the question of himself and others, only the person living that moment has the right to decide whether the answer is justifiable.
Freedom for the Job-Locked
Jonah Goldberg, The American Enterprise Institute
It's only February, but it's already my favorite word -- or phrase, I guess -- of the year. (Who knows, by December it may be shortened to "joblock.") It's not euphonious or edgy, but it does offer insight into the unreality of the Democrats' predicament. The Congressional Budget Office issued a politically explosive report this week, finding that Obamacare will reduce the number of hours Americans work by the equivalent of 2.5 million full-time jobs. This is different from killing 2.5 million jobs, Obamacare defenders are quick to insist. This will be a shortfall on the demand, not supply, side. In other words, people with health insurance will opt not to work in certain circumstances if they know they won't lose their coverage. Democrats insist this is a boon. Indeed, many are talking about it as an act of liberation (which reminds me of an 11-year-old headline from the Onion: "IBM Emancipates 8,000 Wage Slaves"). House minority leader Nancy Pelosi says the CBO report vindicates Obamacare, because "this was one of the goals: to give people life, a healthy life, liberty to pursue their happiness."
Chicago Votes to Go the Way of Detroit
Michael Auslin, The American Enterprise Institute
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is increasingly a textbook example of how far the Democrat party has moved to the left since Bill Clinton's day. Emanuel, who cut his teeth in Clinton's administration, just presided over a $1.9 billion increase in Chicago's debt, only months after Moody's downgraded the city's bond ratings three notches based on its growing and unsustainable spending and debt obligations. Supported by a supine city council, Emanuel has just tacked another mountain of borrowing onto what the city already has to do, split almost evenly between unspecified "general obligations" and bonds for Midway Airport. All told, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Windy City has $29 billion in long-term debt. When challenged on the most recent round of borrowing, Emanuel dismissed the questions, comparing the city to "a lot of families" who refinance their homes. Old-line Democrat cities, it seems, have learned nothing from Detroit's collapse. Wishful thinking, ignorance of the parallels, and misleading excuses are the common defenses trotted out by city administrators who have no intention of having to deal with the mess they have either made or worsened.
What the Obamacare ‘Death Spiral’ Debate Misses
Edmund F. Haislmaier, The Heritage Foundation
Will Obamacare tip the health insurance industry into a "death spiral" that ends in market collapse? While there is growing debate on that question, both sides seem to agree that, to avoid such a collapse, the Obamacare exchanges must enroll a sufficient number of young (and presumably healthy) adults. So, the other week when HHS released updated exchange enrollment data, the figure drawing the most attention was 24 percent--the share of enrollees between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four. Ezra Klein, then still with The Washington Post, promptly weighed in with "The Death of the Obamacare Death Spiral." He began by noting that the young adult enrollment figure is "below the 38 percent that most people--including the Obama administration--estimate the law needs if it's to keep premiums as low as everyone hopes." But he then followed that caveat with arguments for why young-adult enrollment is already sufficient to avoid a death spiral, and will likely increase in the coming months.