Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cruising the Web

Congratulations to the school where I teach which was ranked 15th in the South and 20th nationally by the Daily Beast based on data from the Department of Education. I have felt very lucky to teach at a school with such a thoughtful and caring administration and faculty. And the students are just lovely. I still look forward to every day at work even though it's exhausting.

And this is no surprise: "Charter schools spend less than public schools, but achieve better results." I can certainly testify that this is true of my school:
Why are charters so cost-effective and productive? “It appears to be likely that much of the basis for the higher productivity of public charter schools rests on the fact that they receive less funding and therefore are highly disciplined in their use of those education dollars,” the authors surmise.

“Our analysis indicates that charter schools are consistently more productive than traditional public schools across both cost effectiveness and return on investment calculations for all the states in the study,” Wolf and his coauthors conclude.
For example, several years ago, we decided to buy a building instead of renting our location. North Carolina doesn't give us money for our infrastructure so we have to pay for our building out of our per student allotment. We finally found an ideal location but it needed to be rebuilt from the studs up to be changed from an office building into a school. In order to save money, we depended on parent, student, and faculty volunteers to paint the new building and move us from our old building. Over a couple of days with dozens of volunteers, we moved all the furniture and boxes from the old to the new building. All our furniture is either donated or bought used. And we do just fine. My students don't suffer from using tables and chairs that came from a regular public high school library that was remodeling. We don't need spiffy furniture or professional painters and movers when we have good sweat equity from our own students and families. And everyone felt they had a much deeper stake in our school because they had been involved in bringing it to life. How many regular public schools can say that?

Liz Sheld points to this disturbing result from Pew Research when respondents were asked about libertarians: When asked "Which of these terms best describes someone whose political views emphasize individual freedom by limiting the role of government?" 57% knew the answer was Libertarian, but 6% thought it was Authoritarian and 20% thought it meant Progressive. It demonstrates that a significant portion of the American populace doesn't know much about politics. Candidates need to campaign on what they believe and stay away from labels since so many people don't understand what the labels mean.

Jeffrey Goldberg writes about the disturbing increases in anti-Semitism in Europe. He talks about a local grocery store that was targeted by protesters calling for a boycott of Israeli-made goods. So the manager emptied out the kosher food section. As Goldberg writes, this indicates that anti-Israeli feeling is conflated with anti-Jewish sentiments.
And yet, the Sainsbury’s incident is disturbing not so much for what it says about the nature of European anti-Israelism, but for what it says about the broader response within Europe to forces of intolerance and hatred. Employees of the Sainsbury’s branch in central London seemed to have understood, based on an accurate reading of recent events, that anti-Israel activists posed a threat to their store, and perhaps to their own physical well-being. And so the manager made a decision to surrender to the mob and engage in what could only be called an act of self-preservational, but objectively anti-Semitic, preemption.

Cowering of this sort is a sign that a country is losing the ability to stand for the values it professes to maintain. In the U.K., it is also a sign that a society hasn’t fully grappled with the radical intolerance exhibited by some of its citizens.

The Sainsbury's incident happened in the same city in which recruiters for Islamic State, the too-radical-for-al-Qaeda group that executed American photojournalist James Foley, have been seen openly passing out propaganda. It happened in the same place where what appeared to be a jihadist flag flew outside a housing estate. As many as 1,500 Britons are apparently fighting for Islamic State's cause. There are said to be more British Muslims fighting on behalf of Islamic State than for the U.K.'s military. Foley’s executioner, currently the world’s most infamous terrorist, is widely believed to be a British subject.
It's these casual surrenders to anti-Semitic intimidation that have brought Europe to the frightening position it is now as we can see from the blog "The New Antisemite" which seeks to cover "Jew hatred in Europe, one isolated incident at a time." Seeing incident after incident around all of Europe is so very discouraging.

David Harsanyi ridicules how liberals were freaking out at the thought that Burger King might merge with a Canadian company and base its HQ there in order to gain the benefit of Canada's lower corporate tax rates. First of all, Burger King is owned by a Brazilian company. So why haven't people freaked out about that? And people shop for quality and price, not on the basis of where the company HQ is located.
It’s doubtful there will be much of a real backlash despite much wishful thinking. Most obviously, the majority of fast food customers are probably less inclined than the editors of the New Republic or the petitioners of to mistake high tax rates with patriotism. This kind of distorted understanding of national loyalty may work in populist politics, but not so much in markets. Few reasonable humans will meditate on Burger King’s corporate tax “inversion” or its fiduciary duty to stockholders – or even its Brazilian owners – as they wait for the frozen French Fries to be dropped into the deep fryer.

Nor should they. The four best selling cars in America so far in 2014 are the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord and Toyota Corolla. One of the best-selling cell phones brands is South Korean. And so on. Does a Whopper taste like a Whopper? That’s all that matters. And it’s all that should. Nothing really changes for the consumer.

Josh Kraushaar travels to Minnesota to try to ask Al Franken questions as Franken runs for reelection. It's not easy.

Obamacare - death by a thousand rate hikes.

So will Obama sacrifice red-state Democrats in order to appease those in his parties demanding he take executive action on immigration? But at least he's given those Democrats running for reelection an opportunity to separate themselves from his policies. Or maybe the hope is that the GOP will shoot themselves in their collective feet by their reaction to whatever the President decides to do.

The federal government is trying to convince us that it really isn't all that unreasonably expensive to try to live in San Francisco or New York City.