Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Educational Game Changer


This appeared in The Detroit News:

Detroit News Lansing Bureau

— Michigan has two weeks to finalize its application for about $400 million in federal “Race to the Top” cash, following Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s signing of education reform bills Monday aimed at qualifying for the aid.

The five-bill package will raise the state’s dropout age to 18, tie teacher pay and job security to stu­dent achievement and open about 30 new charter schools.

“The reason this is so signifi­cant is now everything will be fo­cused
on: ‘Is this child learning?’ ” Granholm said. “It’s all about aca­demic progress.”

State schools Superintendent Michael Flanagan added: “This is a game changer forever.”
Just a few observations:
  • Detroit's education system has a graduation rate of about 25%... or less.
  • Trying to force would-be dropouts to attend classes would be an impossible task and blaming their absence on teachers would be unreasonable.
  • Would the parents of those would-be dropout be held civilly liable for their absences from school?
  • Who "inculcates" the students regarding the importance of an education in getting a job when the jobless rate in Detroit is over 30% and about 15% for the entire state?
  • What will be the security and disciplinary improvements to support teachers who are required to babysit unresponsive 17-year olds?
  • Will students who fail to attend classes until they are 18 be sent to juvenile detention facilities or city cleanup details?
Gov. Granholm's plan boils down to this: we're going to get federal money to cover the administrative bungling that has plagued the State's educational system and place all of the responsibility and none of the authority on the teachers to achieve a dramatic improvement in the academic achievement of children who do not want to be students and whose parents do not care if they are students. It's easy to blame the teachers' union for all of the problems, but realistically the government... state and local... and the school boards can claim the lion's share of failure. It's like blaming soldiers for not winning a war when major areas of support are withheld... including rational policies.

Are there incompetent or indifferent teachers? Surely there are. But the percentage is probably lower than the incompetent and indifferent administrators, bureaucrats, and politicians running the circus.

Perhaps Gov. Granholm should exempt the Detroit Public School system from the requirements of the legislation. Otherwise, one can foresee the number of teachers in the DPS dwindling to... zero. Or perhaps they need Sister Mary Joseph and her wooden ruler whacking a few knuckles. And I think charter schools might be a good idea... if they were run totally independently from the public school district.

Personally, you couldn't pay me enough to deal with some of the imbeciles that the Governor wants to pass off as students. Legalize marijuana and put the dropouts in warehouses of that stuff until they turn 18. The results couldn't be worse and the cost would be a lot less.



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SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)