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2012 May 15 — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
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The Local Puppy Trainer reports on the unpleasant surprise just handed out to Florida schools: Statewide FCAT drop worse than expected

In the fourth grade alone, only 27 percent of students earned a proficient score on the standardized test. That’s a 54 percent drop compared to last year. Similar trends occurred in eighth and tenth grade.

FCAT is the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test, which is supposed to impose ‘accountability’ on the public school system by providing a ‘metric’ to judge performance. Testing, which involves big buck contracts to private companies, like the one owned by the brother of our former governor, John Ellis Bush, were supposed to provide an objective yardstick to judge the quality of schools. The fact that it only showed how well a school could ‘teach to a test’ is irrelevant as it gave politicians a reason to continue to reduce funding to education.

Well, they changed the test, and the way the test is graded, and schools haven’t mastered teaching to the new test, so scores have dropped like a rock. What we don’t know is if the kids are actually learning anything, or if they can think for themselves.

Update: Florida’s Board of Education has ‘fixed’ the problem – they lowered the score need to pass.

Essentially the change in the test for writing skills was to begin grading spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Before the test was just scored on the ability to present a reasoned argument in written form. It really amounted to creating a wordy outline, rather than a finished essay.

May 15, 2012   2 Comments

Like I Said

The Miami Herald reports on the dilapidated condition of the Miami sewer system.

Having raw sewage flow into the local waterways is a beginning for a cholera outbreak. There are a lot of people in the area who visit Haiti, where cholera is a major problem, and they will bring it back with them. Given the diminished state of the public health system caused by austerity budgets, an outbreak would be devastating. A crumbling infrastructure and reduced public health resources is a recipe for an epidemic.

May 15, 2012   2 Comments

Going Galt?

McClatchy reports on a very positive indicator: IRS crackdown on foreign assets leading many to renounce U.S. citizenship

Last year, 1,780 Americans relinquished their citizenship to avoid disclosing foreign account information to the Internal Revenue Service. This is a sharp increase over 2010, when 1,485 renounced citizenship. In 2009, the number was 731 and in 2008 226.

The increasing numbers of Americans renouncing citizenship is the result of an IRS crackdown: Within the past three years, the agency has stepped up efforts to track down and prosecute U.S. citizens who evade taxes by hiding money and other financial assets in foreign bank accounts.

Why is this positive? Because these parasites have been enjoying the privilege of US citizenship without paying for it. They aren’t simply facing a large tax bill, they could be facing criminal charges over hiding income, and they are avoiding possible prison time for tax fraud.

Let some other ‘host’ country deal with the problem of these ‘moochers’.

May 15, 2012   2 Comments