Morning Report – You get to keep your incandescent light bulbs 1/14/14

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BankRate 30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 4.42
Stock markets are stronger this morning after a good retail sales report. Bonds and MBS are down.
Retail sales came in at +2% on the headline number, vs. +1% expected. November’s numbers were revised downward. Ex autos and gas, sales increased .6%, vs .3% expected.
We heard from Wells Fargo and JP Morgan this morning – both beat expectations. On the mortgage origination side, Wells originated $50 billion in Q4, down from $80 billion in Q3. For JP Morgan, origination volume was $23 billion, down 42% from Q3.
The National Federation of Independent Business optimism survey came in at 93.9, a little better than expected, and just short of the post-crisis peak of 95.4. Still, that number is depressed compared to historical norms. Pre-recession, the index averaged around 100, and numbers in excess of 100 are typical for recoveries. The theme of the this recovery has been the tale of two sectors. The big S&P 500 names have been benefiting from QE and their international exposure, while smaller businesses have not. It is hard to imagine that we can be flirting with record highs on the S&P 500 while smaller business remains in the doldrums. On the plus side, we are seeing some hiring – NFIB owners increased employment by an average of .24 workers per firm in December, the highest reading since Feb 2006. Capital expenditures also increased by 9 percentage points. So not all the news is glum.

It looks like we have a budget deal that relieves some of the sequester spending cuts. The planned military pension cuts were restored, and obama got more spending for his big priority – head start. For Republicans, they got strict rules to prevent the IRS from targeting groups for ideological scrutiny, and specifically banning the agency for targeting citizens “for exercising any right guaranteed under the First Amendment.” They also blocked the new standards that would effectively prohibit the sale of incandescent light bulbs, and pulled out $1 billion from an obamacare slush fund.

75 Responses

  1. jnc’s a winner today!

    First!

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  2. If, as reported the budget deal really rolls back both domestic and military discretionary spending to levels below the last full George W. Bush budget (FY2008) and sets that as the new baseline, then I consider it a victory for Republicans.

    The overturning of the light bulb ban is the cherry on top.

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  3. Edit: Here’s what we all want.

    SEC. 322. None of the funds made available in this
    13 Act may be used—
    14 (1) to implement or enforce section 430.32(x)
    15 of title 10, Code of Federal Regulations; or
    16 (2) to implement or enforce the standards established
    17 by the tables contained in section
    18 325(i)(1)(B) of the Energy Policy and Conservation
    19 Act (42 U.S.C. 6295(i)(1)(B)) with respect to
    20 BPAR incandescent reflector lamps, BR incandescent reflector lamps, and ER incandescent reflector
    22 lamps.

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  4. The overturning of the light bulb ban is the cherry on top.

    I’m so crushed I’m going back to candlelight.

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  5. Next up, a return to toilets that only need a single flush and washing machines that get the clothes clean in one cycle.

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  6. NoVA – check the previous thread. Your advice really helped Geannie.

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  7. jnc: “return”??? What are you doing to yours? Mine work just fine.

    Hmmmmmmmm

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  8. You have a new HE one?

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  9. Oh, that’s good news re: Geanie. Thanks for the heads up, JNC. But you can see what a problem this is. I suspect that it will get worse on a population level. Those who know to work the system will benefit the most. I suppose that’s nothing new, but I still maintain that it doesn’t have to be that way. But for a quite a few members, casework is what they focus on. they’re basically a vote otherwise.

    Somewhat related, on the Medicare side of things, the Administrative Law Judges just announced it’s a 2 year wait for claims reviews. this is typically an issue for providers who are trying to have denied claims overturned. ALJs are part of that appeals process. The problem is that the funds are locked up until the case is resolved. that an the provider success rate is 75% at the ALJ level. It can have beneficiary impact too, as once the claim is resolved, co-payment and/or deductibles have to be sorted out.

    it’s basically. service provided, Medicare contractor denies claim, claim appealed, contractor denies appeal, second level contractor reviews and denies claims, appeal to ALJ and …. wait 2 years …. you can keep doing this until you end up in federal court. but if the providers are winning at 75% at the ALJ level, that means the contractors are just out of control.

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  10. Question to the women, are men maturing properly? Meaning, are men better now or worse than, say, 15 years ago?

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  11. You have a new HE one?

    Yes; third house with them, in fact. Maybe the problem isn’t the toilets so much as the sewer system in Richmond. . .

    One house in SLC did have problems with the downstairs toilet, although that was mainly because it was essentially on a level with the main sewer line.

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  12. Meaning, are men better now or worse than, say, 15 years ago?

    That is a loaded question if I ever heard one!

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  13. What exactly [do] you agree with?

    That all Americans are equal, or supposed to be.

    As for the other question, Geannie did an admirable job of answering your and “Carl”‘s questions as I would have. No, biology does not teach that life begins at conception–that is purely a religious overlay, so that thinking would, properly, be taught in an elective class that also covered ID.

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    • Mich;

      That all Americans are equal, or supposed to be.

      Jefferson said that all men are created equal. What he meant by this is that natural rights inhere in all humans equally. I don’t understand the connection you draw between that and the notion that the federal government should provide a minimum standard of housing, health care, food, etc to all citizens. In fact, to me this notion is diametrically opposed to what Jefferson said.

      As for the other question, Geannie did an admirable job of answering your…questions as I would have.

      Geanie did not address the question I asked you. I guess you won’t be addressing it either.

      No, biology does not teach that life begins at conception…

      The question was whether any subject besides ID might address the topic of when life begins. Given that biology is a science concerned with the study of life, it strikes me as particularly suited to address the question.

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  14. jnc/NoVA–

    Are you guys able to comment on WaPo? I don’t get any comments at all on any of the boards, and it doesn’t seem to matter whether or not I’m logged in or which browser I’m using.

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  15. i made a few posts at wonkblog earlier today without a problem.

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  16. Do you think a core course could exist who’s content could contain controversial content that you would find exceedingly objectionable? What would you do?

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  17. Another swing D is retiring. Rep. Bill Owens (NY-21). way upstate NY. possible R pickup.

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  18. Do you think a core course could exist whose content could contain controversial content that you would find exceedingly objectionable?

    Yes. Trying to teach religious beliefs as scientific fact. There are other obvious ones.

    What would you do?

    Move to Canada.

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  19. I guess you won’t be addressing it either.

    I did. You just don’t like the answer I gave.

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    • Mich:

      I did. You just don’t like the answer I gave.

      It is not a question of liking or not liking it. I just don’t think it was responsive to the question. I asked if you would still support a national curriculum if it mandated the teaching of things to which you object. You responded by telling me what you would or wouldn’t object to and why. That is not responsive.

      Again, I am just trying to get you to imagine yourself in the same position that you want to place other people in, ie having a curriculum with which you might disagree imposed upon you by the federal government. You seem especially reluctant to do so, which is unfortunate. It might temper your willingness/desire to give the feds more power to dictate top-down solutions to perceived problems.

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  20. i made a few posts at wonkblog earlier today without a problem.

    Sigh. It’s just me then.

    I’m gonna go eat some worms.

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  21. Working fine for me.

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  22. Michi, would t it be easier then not to have a Federal curriculum so you could just move across a state line? There is no curricula that is not subject to controversy by a significant number of people.

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  23. There is no curricula that is not subject to controversy by a significant number of people.

    Define “significant”. It seems to me that it is a religious minority wanting their Christian beliefs being taught as facts that is creating any controversy.

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  24. That is not responsive.

    That is your opinion.

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  25. Significant means more than 30% I guess.

    We cannot even decide on Phonics vs see it/ say it but you think a core curricula, mandated by gunpoint, can be achieved? I gaurantee that there is no unobjectionable Civics curricula or History curricula exists. What about English? What kind of literature is non-controversial? Science is probably the area there would be most agreement on.

    Again, what would you do if the civics curricula was designed and overseen Rand Paul?

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  26. what would you do if the civics curricula was designed and overseen Rand Paul?

    Since it would be based on pseudo-religious doctrine, for a public school it wouldn’t meet the church-state divide.

    Look, I couldn’t care less if you want to send your kids to private school or home school them, but public schools need to have a consistent curriculum across state borders. I’m not saying that the current system is perfect (rather, I’d argue that it is far, far, far from perfect and also far too dominated by minority beliefs).

    And calling public school curricula as something “mandated by gunpoint” does very little to further discussion.

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    • Mich:

      Look, I couldn’t care less if you want to send your kids to private school or home school them, but public schools need to have a consistent curriculum across state borders.

      I don’t see why they “need” this. I can understand why someone might desire it, but it is not an issue of need. Public schools can and have existed without a consistent curriculum across state borders.

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  27. “but public schools need to have a consistent curriculum across state borders.”

    Why? What’s wrong with letting each state run them as they see fit?

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  28. I think that I’m the only person around here who has been directly involved in higher education teaching the kids who are the product of public (and private) schools. The public school system is failing, but not in the way you think. It is turning out doctrinaire children who are not equipped to deal with open-ended questions, ideas, and the pursuit of knowledge.

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  29. What’s wrong with letting each state run them as they see fit?

    Because when a kid from Virginia applies to a UC college, that college system needs to know what basics were taught and how well the kid did in those subjects. I’m talking about core curriculum, not the many electives that could be taught.

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    • Mich:

      Because when a kid from Virginia applies to a UC college, that college system needs to know what basics were taught and how well the kid did in those subjects.

      Each year UCLA admits international students from 80 countries across the world. How does UCLA possibly know what basics were taught and how well these students did in those subjects in the absence of a world-wide, international core curriculum?

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      • Mich:

        Interestingly, according to the latest statistical summary of UC students and staff (see table 6 on page 16), the UC system actually admits even more international students than non-resident domestic students. So they seem to have come up with a way of evaluating these students even in the absence of a core curriculum common to all of them. Why can’t UC simply apply this same method of evaluation to domestic non-Californians?

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  30. ” It is turning out doctrinaire children who are not equipped to deal with open-ended questions, ideas, and the pursuit of knowledge.”

    Feature, not bug.

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  31. Shouldn’t the student be responsible for demonstrating their level of knowledge to whatever institution? Still not understanding why a Federal curriculum is required.

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    • Since you don’t have an understanding why a Federal curriculum is required, I’m assuming you didn’t move from state to state while attending K-12. I didn’t either, but, my children did as my job took me from state to state every 3-4 years. And as I stated previously, in at least one instance, I had a fight on my hands because 1 state wouldn’t accept a class that was taught in the state we moved from. And it was a “basic” class. There is absolutely NO reason to have this occur, it was not only a nightmare for me, but for my daughter also. All students K-12 should receive the same basic core courses (state history exempt). No one should have to take a class over again and be delayed furthering education because we allow our states to handle the basic core courses.

      Again I say, while I was born in Oklahoma, I was more so born in the United States. Surely we can all come to agreement what those basic core courses are and the material to be used. All other “personal” wishes should be handled by those persons via home schooling or private schools.

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      • Geanie:

        Surely we can all come to agreement what those basic core courses are and the material to be used.

        Quite the opposite, I am positive we cannot. In fact, if we all did agree on what a basic core curriculum should be, there would be no need to have the federal government enforce a mandate. Everyone would adopt it willingly, without it being imposed on them by law.

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        • Scott, I disagree. I haven’t researched or studied how public schools became “state” ran. But it is what it is, which leaves many students receiving an inferior education simply because they live in a state where the legislators create an education which includes their personal beliefs and biases. Such school systems do a great injustice to their students. Public education is a major stone in the foundation of creating our future generations. We should, aka our responsibility to those future generations, do everything we can to ensure they graduate with at least a certain level of education and that should not vary from student to student just because they live across the border in another state. Core curriculum IMHO are math, reading, writing, biology, science, history BASICS. All else should be electives.

          So Scott, just what about those basic core curriculum do you think would be much to much difficult to agree on? Basic Core means anything that relates to beliefs or personal biases is not covered as those would roll into a plethora of elective courses.

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        • Geanie:

          So Scott, just what about those basic core curriculum do you think would be much to much difficult to agree on?

          Your own experience detailed here demonstrates that people in Colorado don’t agree with people in Texas on what a grade school math curriculum should look like. McWing mentioned the controversy over things like phonics vs see it/say it when teaching reading. A required reading list for any potential English curriculum would be great fodder for controversy. The possibilities are endless.

          Again, the very fact that state/locally mandated curriculums are already at such variance that you would be compelled to desire a federally mandated one simply proves that “we” don’t agree on what a proper curriculum should look like. Your faith that surely “we” can all agree on what a curriculum should look like goes against all evidence and experience. Even your own.

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        • Ok Scott, I hear you. So let’s look at it this way then. How about we simply look at the K-12 education results of each state. Take the top 10 rated state public education systems and create a standard core curriculum from those. That way, hopefully, states like Texas, which has a rather poor public education system, will no longer continue to create low-level educated citizens of whom many end up in poverty and on welfare.

          There’s more to having a standard core curriculum from state to state than just convenience for the students and their families. The prime reason for doing so is to UP the quality of education for those states who deprive their students of a quality education. There’s no reason a student in the same grade should be taking a class that a student in the same grade, in another state, took 1 or 2 years earlier.

          As I said earlier, these students are our nation’s future and we should be doing everything possible to ensure they receive a quality education, beginning in kindergarten and continuing through HS graduation. Allowing states to make up their own curriculum, leaving millions of students under-educated, is not doing everything we can do and those students deserve better, our nation deserves better.

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  32. Non glib response — the system is doing what it was designed to do. turn out obedient interchangeable parts for the factory floor. The system has yet to catch up to the changes in society, and from what I can tell, has little interest or incentive to do so.

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  33. Feature, not bug.

    Not according to colleagues who’ve been around for 20 or more years. This is a relatively recent development. I myself saw an enormous change over just ten years when I was running my own lab.

    Shouldn’t the student be responsible for demonstrating their level of knowledge to whatever institution?

    And you think grades are for. . . what??

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  34. Ido t understand. Why is it a Federal responsibility that the UC system knows what and how much a Virginia student is taught. Isn’t it the student’s and UC’s obligation to determine that?

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  35. P.S. to clarify, the class was a math class, taken in Colorado. Then moved to Texas (UGH), and they wouldn’t accept it because THEY weren’t that far along and tried to force my daughter to retake a course over which she had taken 2 years earlier and received an A in it. It should not fall upon the student to have to deal with crap like this because one state sucks when it comes to educating their children.

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  36. Genie, I moved interstate and intrastate during my school years. I am a product of public schooling.

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    • Hahaha Troll. My point is that public education basic core curriculum should be the same from state to state. Evidently you never had a problem does not mean everyone does not have a problem. And yes, many states fall very short in their curriculum (Texas) and others don’t (Colorado), which is exactly why we should have standard core curriculum for all states. I also agree that we need to step our education up a notch. But since most students families can’t afford private schools and both parents are working, public school is all that is available and we should do our best to ensure they are all taught equally.

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      • Geanie, education is not even a word in the Federal Constitution. Each state can determine what passes muster under its own constitution, and that is how it shall remain absent a constitutional amendment.
        Everyone here knows that I am a friend of public education. BTW, TX is better at it than CO. But that is neither here nor there.

        Colleges set their own standards. They use SATs, ACTs, AP courses, and the IB curriculum to compare across states and schools and regions.

        ‘Goose, my daughter the pharmacist went off to UCLA as a ChE and had a 3.46 there before she transferred back to UT. She was a graduate of a public science magnet HS. She was not automatically eligible at UT as she was in the top eleven per cent at the magnet [never mind that the magnet was all top ten per cent kids]. She would have been in worse shape in CA, where UCLA and UCB and UCSD require top 4% for automatic entry. However, her SATs and APs made her an easy accept at UCLA.

        Although not an automatic, her math/sci APs and grades, and a ChE major would have got her into TX, I hasten to add. The departments retain some discretion. She was an early accept at GaTech on the same basis, but she would not have been an automatic in GA either. It is strange, in a way. But universities must use the standardized stuff to rate across different systems.

        My oldest daughter, Hannah, was a NMS, and UNC-CH was her first choice. She could not get in b/c at that time if you were not from NC you had to be a jock to get in.

        I emphasize that college’s own options are not dependent on what any HS anywhere is doing, but on the college’s own standards and requirements. A good student from a HS that cannot fulfill the pre college reqs of a 4 year school will get a second shot by filling missing prereqs at a community college. Happens all the time.

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        • Mark, I just checked the school rankings by state. You are correct, TX beat CO by less than 1%. I can only assume that CO education 15+ years ago was better than it is now. Something I need to research now to determine why CO dropped as it had a top tier education system 15+ years ago.

          But… TX and CO both received a C+ grade for school year 2012. NO state received an A. The top 10 states listed, from Education Week, a Professional educational site, are: MD, MA, NY, VA, AR, FL, GA, NJ, WV and KY, in that order, all received a B+.

          Why in the world, does the richest nation, the supposedly leading nation of the world, does not have a single state that provides a grade A public education? I guess that supports America’s education being surpassed by several other industrialized nations.

          While America has been known as the “greatest” nation, we seem to be continually slipping and being surpassed by many other countries in all sorts of categories. How sad that my father put his life on the line, more than once, to fight for a nation that, it appears to me anyway, no longer gives a shit anymore about anything other than what they can get from it, and I’m not just referring to the poorest of us getting government assistance.

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  37. what do they cite as the cause? standardized testing? the push for self-esteem above all else?

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  38. Isn’t it the student’s and UC’s obligation to determine that?

    It shouldn't be. . . unless you want to greatly enlarge the number of state (public) employees verifying that educational standards are equivalent.

    See, I’m for enlarging the federal reach (in some areas) in order to reduce the burden on states. States budgets and all. . .

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  39. i’ll try to find it, but there was an essay that talked about how we couldn’t even agree what th purpose of school is. but it basically cut tot the crux of all our our issues .. is education a public or private good?

    is it?

    1) create a nation of republicans (small R) that are prepared to lead?
    2) prepare them to be functioning, employable members of the public
    3) prepare the individual to succeed

    i’m messing up points 2 and 3. but the gist was 2 is “it’s a public good, we all benefit, etc.” vs. 3 .. it’s a benefit so the individual is prepared to compete. and win.

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  40. Michi, in all seriousness I prefer state inefficiency to Federal efficiency. A state pisses me off I can move to another.

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  41. Troll. One must remember that most simply cannot just move to another state. Must be nice to think though.

    and with that, I am done for the day. While I have been enjoying this debate, I must put the laptop away, take some meds, and let my arms/hands rest. I will live and return to fight another battle. Have a fantastic evening everyone!

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  42. Troll is offering a good deal, michi.

    i’d shut them down completely.

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  43. good to hear from you, Geanie

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  44. speaking of educational choice: http://minx.cc/?post=346427

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  45. Well said.

    Viva Zapata!

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  46. Just heard George Will on Brett Beir’s show on FOX essentially saying insurance companies deserve bailout because they too are victims of the Abomination.

    They wrote the fucking law!

    Fix is in.

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  47. How does UCLA possibly know what basics were taught and how well these students did in those subjects in the absence of a world-wide, international core curriculum?

    Because, in general, they (that nebulous “they”, but in this sense meaning anywhere where schooling is done in English, whether it’s the first language or not) do a far better job in the basics than we do. That also answers your UC system question.

    We used to be the higher education system of choice for the world, but that’s about to end. And it’s about to end because our K – 12 system is failing us.

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    • Mich:

      Because, in general, they (that nebulous “they”, but in this sense meaning anywhere where schooling is done in English, whether it’s the first language or not) do a far better job in the basics than we do.

      So, then, a single core curriculum across all applicants is obviously not needed in order to be able to evaluate them. So much for that rationale, I guess.

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  48. So, then, a single core curriculum across all applicants is obviously not needed in order to be able to evaluate them. So much for that rationale, I guess.

    You’d be amazed at how similar core curricula are across English-speaking nations other than the US.

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    • Mich:

      You’d be amazed at how similar core curricula are across English-speaking nations other than the US.

      My wife taught in an English speaking school in Hong Kong for several years and my kids attended schools in HK, the UK, as well as the US. We ourselves had to transition first from the HK curriculum to a UK curriculum, then to a US curriculum. I’m guessing I have more familiarity and experience with various international curriculums than anyone else here. There are both similarities and differences, not only in content but in method, throughout all of them.

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  49. You aren’t going to like this answer, but the decline of public schools tracks with greater federal involvement in education since the 1970’s. One specific example is the shifting of resources to special education from regular education as a result of federal statutes and lawsuits.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_for_All_Handicapped_Children_Act

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  50. “these students are our nation’s future and we should be doing everything possible to ensure they receive a quality education,”

    Mrs. Krabappel: Seymour, you have to think of the children’s future.
    Seymour: Oh, Edna. We all know that these children HAVE no future.
    [everyone stops and stares at Seymour]
    Seymour: Prove me wrong, children. Prove me wrong.

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  51. Not every perceived problem is a federal problem. If states want to devote less to their children than that’s what the voters have decided.

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    • McWing:

      Not every perceived problem is a federal problem.

      Unfortunately I think many people have an ends justifies the means mindset. They are totally focused on achieving a desired outcome, and don’t particularly care about the method by which that outcome is achieved. And so there is no particular principle behind their willingness/desire to impose federal solutions to perceived problems. It is just a matter of 1) how badly do I want this particular thing and 2) can I best achieve it through the imposition of federal power or via some other means. The notion that there might be a measure of appropriateness for the use of federal power apart from “what is the best means of achieving my goal” seems not to occur to them.

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  52. There’s another elephant in the room and that’s that many who are concerned with getting a good education for their kids find it easier to simply move them to private school and write off the public system than to try and take on the entrenched interest groups to facilitate change, even though this means that they are effectively paying twice.

    Absent actual reform of the system itself, calls for more resources don’t play particularly well. And so far, the entrenched interests have managed to defeat the reformers.

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  53. kids find it easier to simply move them to private school and write off the public system

    Damn skippy. That’s what we’re doing. It’s Catholic school or private school. I’m fine with it, but my wife had a harder time with it. But she’s come around and actually said, “I think you’re right. It’s about the system, not the kids.”

    Like

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