Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Cruising the Web

Joy Pullmann explains why the NAACP has betrayed the very people the organization pretends to be fighting for. Even though black leaders and black families are looking to charter schools as the saving grace for children stuck in awful schools, the NAACP has issued a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter schools and any other form of choice in education.

The NAACP seems to think that the problem is that we're not spending enough money on schools.
This stance is a head-scratcher on myriad counts. For one, the United States already boasts the highest-funded public education system in the world, at an average cost (not including public debt, typically for facilities costs, which is massive) of $12,000 per student per year. The districts where black students are concentrated tend to spend even more — Washington DC, for example, spends approximately $25,000 per child per year, Baltimore spends $15,000 per student, and Detroit $14,000. U.S. education spending has quadrupled since the 1970s while student achievement has stagnated, and seems to have had little effect on black kids particularly (once raised above segregation-era pittances).
But don't let such facts get in the way of dogma. Especially inconvenient is the fact that charters, which are public schools that just give the school more choice in how to accomplish its educational mission, don't spend anywhere the amount of money that regular public schools spend per student.
Now, the average charter school — which is a fully public school that local citizens can apply to run as independent boards following public transparency laws — spends approximately $7,600 per student per year. Despite the huge cost savings charters offer, quality studies show their students learn at least as much, and often more, than their peers in traditional public schools.

In fact, the children who seem to academically and socially benefit the most from enrolling in a charter school are the very children NAACP claims to represent: poor, minority children. For example: “Black and Hispanic students who attended charter schools in [New York City] for eight years closed the achievement gap with affluent suburbs like Scarsdale by 86% in math and 66% in English,” found a National Bureau for Economic Research study. “Public charter middle schools in Boston cut the black-white achievement gap in math by as much as half in a single year.”

Massachusetts charters close the racial achievement gap on half the funding of traditional public schools — and charters are legally forbidden from refusing any student for any reason. They have to take low performers, English learners, and disabled kids. Closed the achievement gaps between white and minority students! That’s practically the Holy Grail of education reform! And at half the cost! What more could you want?
The gap between black and white kids exists, but the NAACP now is on board opposing the very schools that are actually doing something to close that gap. The families of children lucky enough to attend those charter schools are tremendously grateful for that opportunity. Sadly, the NAACP is rejecting the very solution that they should be throwing all their support behind.
Just a quarter of African-Americans would pick public schools if they had a choice in the matter; and 20 percent would pick a charter school. In that same poll, a whopping 74 percent of black respondents favored charter schools, and two-thirds supported vouchers and tax-credit scholarships. Clearly, the NAACP doesn’t represent most black families on this matter.

Enrollment patterns show a similar reality. According to the latest federal data, 27 percent of charter school students are black, more than double their proportion among the general population of 12 percent. About a million African-American children attend charter schools exclusively because of their parents’ choice to enroll them in those environments.

NAACP is telling these black parents they’ve made bad choices, that their individual success is a threat to their peers. That sounds like a more polished rendition of the “acting white” slur that says black kids who study hard and make something of themselves are somehow betraying peers who don’t make those choices.

In reality, again, the opposite is true. School choice not only gives poor and moderate-income parents education buying power and thus leverage equal to that of wealthy families, it cultivates the social capital and infrastructure money can’t buy, which is a far more fundamental precursor to success and ability to withstand adversity....

Black families are among those worst injured by poor public schools and our nation’s system of ZIP code-assigned schooling. Their choice to better their family and children is not made at the expense of other kids. In exercising these choices, black parents are creating better futures both for their children and for their communities. They should be celebrated, not condemned, for taking individual responsibility for their families and communities in this way.
My suspicion about the NAACP has been that they're voting to support the teachers' unions which are deathly afraid of charter schools. One of the main differences between regular public schools and charters is that charters don't have to give their teachers tenure. They're not governed by union contracts which are bankrupting some areas with their generous pension benefits. They don't have to hire only people who have gotten certified to teach through some college program. They can hire people who are shifting to teaching from some other profession. They're not limited in the number of days per year or hours per day that teachers can work. And so they can have longer school years and longer school days to help inner-city children catch up and close that gap. But it's a very demanding job and many teachers don't want to work that hard and those long hours. But the ones who are that dedicated can see the difference that they're making in children's lives and the rewards are worth it for them. Such teachers and school leaders along with the families that give them their support should be celebrated and school districts should be seeking to find ways to emulate their success.

Instead, the unions fight tooth and nail against charters. And Democratic politicians and the interest groups that form their coalition, like the NAACP, are join in that struggle against the challenge that charters provide. Witness Chicago where the union threatened a strike and Rahm Emanuel caved by giving them an agreement to limit charter school growth.
If teachers ratify the agreement that barely staved off a strike, then Chicago would become the first American city to cap its number of charter schools using a union contract.

Contained in the deal to be considered this week by Chicago Teachers Union delegates is a provision to impose limits on both the number of charter schools in Chicago Public Schools as well as those schools’ total enrollment over the duration of the four-year agreement.
The competition from those charter schools show up the deficiencies of the regular public schools and so the unions must stop them.

Of course, I'm biased. I teach at a college-preparatory charter high school and my older daughter works for the KIPP schools of Washington, D.C. which have continually shown that they can educate inner-city minority children more successfully than the regular public schools in D.C. The District of Columbia is one of the places in the country where there has been support for charter schools and the results have been truly impressive. The performance of students in charters has outstripped those of students in regular public schools at just about every grade level and in every subject. That is why almost half (44% in 2014 and it's been increasing since then) the students in the District of Columbia public schools are enrolled in charters.

Here is a nice article that just came about looking at the school where I teach.
Walking through the hallways and into the classrooms of the 560-student high school offers a glimpse of why several media outlets — U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post, and others — have named Raleigh Charter in Wake County as one of the top schools in the country.

“It's really all about citizenship,” principal Lisa Huddleston said. “Everything we do, in our choices that we make, is about how do we create a strong academic environment that helps empower these kids to become contributing citizens.”

The school is one of the hottest tickets in academics in the state, and with good reason. U.S. News & World Report said RCHS had a College Readiness Index of 93.3 percent, with 96 percent of students taking an Advanced Placement test and 97 percent of those passing.

But Huddleston said preparing the students for college and beyond isn’t about striving for high scores and national rankings. The community fosters the growth of the students — the accolades and successful results are simply a byproduct.

"In my mind, it's kids like that, that think so critically and are willing to go so deep,” said teacher Barbara Soloman, who came to RCHS 16 years ago from NC State. “But fortunately what ends up happening is we have developed a culture. So the kids who come in and are not used to it learn the expectations from other students.”

Any student in N.C. can apply to a charter school, and Huddleston said RCHS has had parents come from as far away as Vance County — a 90-minute commute — to have their children attend the school....

For those that get in to RCHS — this year only 86 of 1,197 students who applied were accepted, along with 64 siblings of current or former students — there are sacrifices that come with attending a charter school.

Raleigh Charter, for example, doesn’t have a cafeteria, gymnasium or its own athletic facilities. N.C charter schools operate on less than 70 percent of the state money that a traditional public school gets, because charters do not get government construction funds or N.C. Education Lottery money. Often, charters will supplement with grants and private donations. Furthermore, pinpoint-specific electives that are offered at magnet schools like nearby Enloe High School aren’t possible at RCHS.

“I think that it's hard for one school to be all things to all people, and I think part of what's behind the charter school model is our recognition of that,” Huddleston said.

Interesting Finds at Amazon: Updated Daily

Spring Savings in Grocery and Gourmet Food

Groceries under $10

Best Deals in Pet Supplies

Office and School Supplies

How dumb is Chris Cuomo? This is a man who went to Yale and has a law degree and he seems to have no understanding of how the law works. He actually went on TV on CNN and told the public that it would be illegal for them to possess the documents from WikiLeaks.
“Also interesting is, remember, it’s illegal to possess these stolen documents. It’s different for the media. So everything you learn about this, you’re learning from us.”
The media would certainly love it if people believed that they couldn't simply go on the internet and read things that are posted there and if the media had a monopoly on all information. But it just doesn't work that way. Eugene Volokh, who is an expert on the First Amendment, explains things to Cuomo.
Ah, isn’t it lovely to be so special, so specially immune from the law? Except it’s not at all different for the media. The First Amendment offers the same protection to the media as to the rest of us, including when it comes to possessing or distributing illegally obtained material (so long as you weren’t involved in the original illegal hack or interception or leak). Indeed, in the 2001 Bartnicki v. Vopper decision, the Supreme Court rejected even civil liability for distributing illegally intercepted cellphone calls, and expressly refused to distinguish the media from others:

And here is another know-nothing CNN anchor.
CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin criticized Donald Trump’s call for term limits on members of Congress on Tuesday by incorrectly saying that such limits already existed.

As part of a new policy to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C., Trump announced Tuesday he would push for a constitutional amendment as president to impose term limits on all members of Congress.

“Correct me, there already are term limits, so what does he mean?” Baldwin skeptically asked reporter Dana Bash.

Indeed, Baldwin had to be corrected. Bash did so politely.
I just don't get how someone can be an anchor on a news channel and not know such basic stuff.

Obamacare keeps annoying people.
Andrea Schankman's three-year relationship with her insurer, Coventry Health Care of Missouri, has been contentious, with disputes over what treatments it would pay for. Nonetheless, like other Missourians, Schankman was unnerved to receive a notice from Coventry last month informing her that her policy was not being offered in 2017.
With her specialists spread across different health systems in St. Louis, Schankman, a 64-year-old art consultant and interior designer, said she fears she may not be able to keep them all, given the shrinking offerings on Missouri's health insurance marketplace.
In addition to Aetna (AET), which owns Coventry, paring back its policies, UnitedHealthcare (UNH) is abandoning the market. The doctor and hospital networks for the remaining insurers will not be revealed until the enrollment period for people buying individual insurance begins Nov. 1.

"We're all sitting waiting to see what they're going to offer," said Schankman, who lives in the village of Westwood. "A lot of [insurance] companies are just gone. It's such a rush-rush-rush no one can possibly know they're getting the right policy for themselves."
Doctor and hospital switching has become a recurring scramble as consumers on the individual market find it difficult or impossible to stay on their same plans amid rising premiums and a revolving door of carriers willing to sell policies. The instability, which preceded the health law, is intensifying in the fourth year of the Obamacare exchanges for people buying insurance directly instead of through an employer.

Gee, what a surprise. Normalization of relations with Cuba hasn't led to any easing up on civil rights there.
It's now been almost two years since President Obama began easing relations with Cuba to make "the lives of ordinary Cubans a little bit easier, more free, more prosperous." How's that working out? No so well, it seems.

Responding to the extraordinary changes then taking place, the left-wing British Guardian in December 2014 predicted, "The easing of U.S. restrictions on Cuba will provide a telling case study in one of the longest running debates in foreign policy: whether sanctions or engagement represent the best way to change authoritarian regimes."

They were right. And so far, this "case study" doesn't show Obama's "engagement" works any better than sanctions. Far from it.

After the "normalization" of relations agreed to by Obama and Cuban associate dictator Raul Castro, the Cuban government made 8,616 politically motivated arrests in 2015 and 7,418 more in just the first half of this year, according to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights. Meanwhile, Cuban government violations of religious freedoms surged from just 220 in 2014 to 2,300 in 2015, says Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a religious rights group.

"There is no such thing as dictator-down economics," said Ana Quintana, a policy analyst who focuses on Latin America and the Western Hemisphere at the Heritage Foundation. "There is no evidence this will help the Cuban people. It will help the Cuban government and the Communist Party elite."

Ah, the irony of it.
Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email system while serving as secretary of State, but the Republican presidential nominee's corporate enterprise appears to be equally vulnerable to cyberattacks.

A digital security architect on Monday evening discovered several weaknesses in the Trump Organization's email servers, which appeared to be outdated and not patched for security flaws.
“There are no security fixes. They don't have basics down,” Kevin Beaumont said on Twitter, noting several problems with the machines that run email for Trump's hotels, golf courses and other businesses.
What are the chances that the Russians have already hacked into Trump's computers?

Kindle Deals up to 80% off

Today's Best Deals

Deal of the Day in Books

Watch Marco Rubio eviscerate his opponent in the Florida Senate race. He totally destroys him in one minute. Now just spend a happy minute daydreaming what he could have done with Hillary Clinton in a debate. Then return to reality.

Adam C. Smith, the political editor of the Tampa Bay Tribune is having the same daydream.
Imagine how different things could have been if they nominated Rubio for president instead of Donald Trump.

Instead of a nominee talking about America as if it were heaving its last, dying gasps, they would hear optimism and idealism....

Instead of downplaying and debating whether their nominee is a sexual assaulter or merely a pig, Republicans would have an election far more focused on Hillary Clinton's record and agenda.

Instead of talking about their nominee as the lesser of two evils, Republicans could hold up the election of this youthful Cuban-American son of a maid and bartender as evidence of America's greatness....

Instead of talking about poll after poll showing their nominee losing, I strongly suspect Republicans would be touting polls showing Rubio beating Clinton.

It's safe to assume change trumps the status quo — unless the change candidate manages on too many days to come off as a shallow and volatile.

Illegally hacked emails from the Clinton campaign dribbling out through Wikileaks clearly illustrate how Florida's junior senator worried them as a potential general election opponent....

Florida reporters most familiar with Rubio were the most skeptical about his candidacy. We know better than most how he can be just as calculating and cautious as Hillary Clinton.

But most of us also recognize Rubio is a once-in-a-generation political talent with a great story and broad appeal. Trump has proved to be a gift to Clinton. Rubio, disciplined and smart, would have been a giant barrier.

Maybe she'll find out in 2020.

Holman Jenkins is another one imagining what this campaign would look like with a different candidate.
If today’s Democratic campaign were being fought against a generic Republican without Mr. Trump’s distinct qualities and history, here’s what would dominate the news:

Mrs. Clinton was verbally convicted by the FBI chief for mishandling classified information yet somehow not formally charged.

Her aides were allowed to cut curious deals with FBI investigators that effectively swept under the rug any possible charges against them for obstruction or evidence tampering.

Those same aides have been revealed, through email leaks, to have freely mixed public and private interests, including their own and Clinton private interests, in the performance of jobs that, in some cases, saw them receiving salaries from the Clinton Foundation or the Clinton family even as they also worked for the taxpayer at the State Department.

The State Department itself, during Mrs. Clinton’s time as secretary, operated as an extension of the Clinton Foundation when it came to handling the requests and advancing the interests of important Clinton Foundation donors, some of which were foreign governments.

The latest email leak, likely at the hands of Russian hackers, shows the State Department negotiating with the FBI over the classification status of Mrs. Clinton’s private emails in search of reducing her legal jeopardy.
And don't expect peace and harmony after the election.
Here’s what we can expect after Election Day: Democrats will claim that a sweeping victory over Mr. Trump is a mandate for policies that were hardly talked about during a campaign focused on the shortcomings of Mr. Trump’s treatment of women. If Democrats don’t win the House, Mrs. Clinton will adopt President Obama’s strategy of aggressively using executive orders to expand Washington’s dominance of the private sector while painting Republicans as obstructionists.

Those who reason that Mrs. Clinton and House Speaker Paul Ryan have histories and temperaments suited to cooperation and see hope for bipartisan progress will be disappointed. Why? Because of the steady drip of email leaks. Because of new information challenging the quality and objectivity of the FBI investigation.

Mrs. Clinton, like Nixon in 1972, may not get a honeymoon no matter how big her win. The debate we aren’t having in the campaign, we will continue not to have: how to foster a modern state that doesn’t metastasize corruption, cronyism, elites helping themselves. There will be no bipartisan action on things that ail the American economy and hold back its growth. All of Washington will be enmeshed in a replay of the Watergate era, inward-looking, destructive, consumed with investigations and score-settling.

Of course, much will depend on how the vote for control of Congress goes, and whether Mrs. Clinton has an unsuspected gift for creative political leadership that somehow can give the GOP a stake in her success—as Mr. Obama so signally failed to do. Pleasant surprises are always possible. Don’t bet on one.
And Republican voters who are so angry at the GOP in Congress for not being able to overturn the structure of our government and govern from Congress will get what they wanted when they selected Trump. And they'll get it good and hard.

Best Deals in Auto Parts

Sales and Deals in Beauty and Grooming

Deals in Jewelry

Well, this is an apt metaphor.
This bus promoting Hillary Clinton must’ve been full of crap.

The vehicle was seen dumping human waste into a storm drain during a stop in Lawrenceville, Georgia, on Tuesday.

The bus, owned by the Democratic National Committee, spewed enough waste that hazmat crews and police responded to the scene, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.