April 27, 2013
The College Board Trolls for Home-Schoolers
The College Board, which already grabs much information about a student’s family from the questionnaire which the student must answer in order to take the SAT, is now trolling for homeschooled students to take the Advanced Placement (AP) tests, which are offered on myriad subjects.
Perhaps the AP web page dedicated to homeschoolers is a sign of the times. Perhaps we home-school parents should tell ourselves that we’ve come a long way, baby.
Or perhaps not.
Parents, beware! Either a homeschooling parent will have taught any given subject with such a different focus that the student will have difficulty in taking the test, or the parent will find herself "teaching to the test" and depriving her child of the balanced information that is one of the hallmarks of a home-school education.
A review of a suggested AP Art History curriculum and accompanying sample test provide a subtle example by which the gentle reader may ease into this shocking discovery. The Art History curriculum is finite, and yet it provides much emphasis on non-Western art — including Islamic art, which is beautiful, but which might not be an appropriate area of focus for the average American homeschooler.
A sample question which deals with Western art asks the student to fill in the end of the following sentence: "Mary Cassatt demonstrated a keen interest in (A) landscapes of Italy, (B) animal paintings, (C) Hudson River scenes, or (D) Japanese prints."
Now, Mary Cassatt focused on the lives of women; she painted gorgeous portraits of mothers and their children. Sometimes there were pets in the pictures — so is the answer B? Cassatt lived for years in France, which is near Italy, so is the answer A? Cassatt came from Pennsylvania, which neighbors New York, so is the answer C? No, the answer is D, because more than halfway through her life, she saw a Japanese art exhibit which moved her to imitate somewhat the techniques used in Japan.
Yes, the inspiration is visible in a number of her works. Yet, by the AP question, Cassatt, an American feminist in the best sense of the word, is reduced to an artistic dilettante.
The AP US Government and Politics web page shows how a student’s grade is determined. Five to 15% of the test refers to the "Constitutional Underpinnings" of the U.S. government. For the other 85%-95%, "public opinion" becomes a recurrent theme.
The AP European History test sample appears sophisticated almost to the point of being esoteric. However, one of the more comprehensible questions shares a quotation from Thomas Malthus, an early population control theorist.
A pleasant surprise is a review of the AP English Language and Composition sample exams. Students read short texts and then answer questions regarding the texts. Here is a portion of a quoted essay by social critic Neil Postman: "What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one." Still, the test might not share the subject and author emphases which a home-school parent might have for her child.
Rather than preparing to take an AP test, taking a community college course for dual high school and college credit might be a more satisfying option for the average home-school student.
Marianna Trzeciak skipped a year of college because of high AP scores, but she does not recommend the AP tests to her own children.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:37 am
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
Andrew J. Coulson
On Wednesday, the Oakland school board voted 4–3 to close three of California’s highest performing schools: the American Indian Model (AIM) charter schools. When Ben Chavis took over the American Indian Public Charter School just over a decade ago, it was the worst peformer in Oakland—an utter shambles. Today, it and the two sister schools Chavis created are among the highest-performing in the entire state. I know—I did the math. In a 2011 study comparing the performance of all of California’s charter school networks, I found that AIM was #1 by a wide margin. For contrast, I included in the study two of the state’s most elite, academically selective high schools: Lowell in San Francisco and Gretchen Whitney outside of Los Angeles. After controlling for student characteristics and peer effects, the AIM network beat them both—not just on the official state tests, but on the Advanced Placement tests administered by the College Board as well. More remarkable, AIM accomplished all that while spending less per pupil than the Oakland Unified School District, whose performance is abysmal by comparison. And that’s the great irony of the school board’s vote to close the AIM schools: the board accuses Ben Chavis, who is now retired, of fiscal irregularities or mismanagement during his tenure. Think about that: The board’s own schools are expensive failures. The AIM network is an incredibly cost-effective success. Yet somehow Chavis is the one accused of mishandling a budget? The core of the allegations seems to be that Chavis, who has a real-estate business, leased space to his schools and made money from that transaction, while vaulting AIM schools to stratospheric success. So, naturally, we should punish his schools. $#%#?!?
Even if Chavis is found guilty of some impropriety (the district’s allegations are now almost a year old, yet no charges have been filed against him), the man is retired. What purpose is served, what possible justice could there be, in closing down the brilliantly successful schools with which he is no longer involved? The bigger picture is this: It isn’t simply the Oakland school board that is broken, it’s our entire approach to organizing and funding education. In every other field, our greatest innovators and achievers are handsomely rewarded for their contributions to the welfare of their fellow citizens. As a result, innovation has flourished in those other fields. But in education, great achievers and innovators are not comparably rewarded. In fact, some of the very greatest have been driven out of the system. By shutting education out of the free enterprise system, closing it off from the freedoms and incentives of the marketplace, we have stunted its development. And with it, the development of our children. The AIM schools will appeal the board’s vote. If enough people from the Bay Area voice their desire to see the vote overturned, sanity and humanity may yet prevail.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
By Walter Olson
Reform has finally caught up with one of North America’s longest-entrenched socialist institutions, the Canadian Wheat Board. From the 1940s down through the first of this month, farmers in western Canada were legally forbidden to sell their wheat and barley other than through the official board, which by abolishing competition between farmers was supposed to assure fairer and higher prices. (Technically the Board enjoyed a “monopsony,” which is what economists call a monopoly over buying something as distinct from selling it.) Farmers have complained for years that the board not only behaved arbitrarily and was hard to deal with but also that it often paid less for grain than farmers in nearby American states like North Dakota were getting. The board continues to exist, but stripped of its compulsory powers it will need to persuade growers to trade with it voluntarily. Economist David Henderson, who lived in a Manitoba farm community as a kid, has more.
The battle to free the farmers was long and fierce — the left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) and National Farmers Union greeted the August 1 decontrol with undisguised bitterness — and no one played a more central role in the victory, or put more political capital on the line, than Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Per the CBC,
Harper has a long history of supporting the farmers who fought the wheat board. In 2001, he wrote a review of a book on that battle, calling the wheat board an “oppressive monopoly” that used “legal bullying” against farmers.
Harper and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz were at the farm to mark the first official day in which prairie wheat and barley farmers can sell their products to whomever they choose.
Harper is also pardoning a group of farmers arrested under the old law. Last fall, I had the chance to meet Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, another key backer of the reform, and a couple of his aides at a free- market gathering out West. When he heard I was with the Cato Institute, Wall said he’d long been a warm admirer of the Institute’s work. With good ideas as with other good things: “first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.”
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
Robert H. Schuller, wife resign from Crystal Cathedral board
The action stems from a breakdown in talks over financial claims against the church that the Schullers filed in Bankruptcy Court. For the first time in its history, there is no Schuller on the board.
By Nicole Santa Cruz and Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times
March 10, 2012, 8:31 p.m.
Embroiled in a legal dispute with the church he founded, Robert H. Schuller and his wife have resigned from the international board of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove.
The resignations are a result of a breakdown in negotiations over financial claims against the church that the Schullers filed in Bankruptcy Court.
Schuller; his wife, Arvella; their daughter Carol Schuller Milner; and her husband, Timothy Milner, allege that the church owes them money for copyright infringement, intellectual property violations and unpaid contracts.
"We cannot continue to serve on the board in what has become an adversarial and negative atmosphere especially since it now seems that it will not be ending any time soon," Arvella Schuller said in a statement Saturday.
Sorting through competing financial claims has delayed $12.5 million in payments to some church creditors and could threaten the church’s ability to continue its ministries, including the "Hour of Power" broadcasts.
The Schullers’ resignation marks the end of an era. For the first time, no family member is serving on the board of the church that Robert Schuller founded 42 years ago.
The financially ailing church sold the Crystal Cathedral campus to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange in February for $57.5 million. Payment to creditors was expected this spring, but because some claims are for unknown amounts and the Milners and Schullers have not agreed to establish a payment reserve, vendors cannot be paid until those amounts are determined by the court, said Nanette Sanders, attorney for the creditors.
The Schuller family insisted Saturday that they did not want to delay payments to creditors. They blamed the current church leadership for halting discussions.
The family received word Tuesday that there would be no further negotiations, Carol Schuller Milner said.
"This could be a long deal," she said in an interview Saturday. "That’s why we feel bad for the creditors too."
"We’ve been hoping there was another way," Schuller Milner said. "It will continue to be a long and probably painful time."
She added that her parents were "baffled" by the breakdown in talks.
A spokesman for the church was not immediately available to respond, but its board has generally sided with the committee of creditors, which has filed objections to the Schuller and Milner claims.
The creditors committee has alleged that the church ministry, of which family members are a part, has borrowed money from an endowment fund and continued to receive generous salaries and perks even as the church struggled financially.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:06 am
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2011
Time To Jump On Board The Gold Train – It’s Warming Up To Leave The Station
After an 8 month price correction that has been mistakenly taken to be a new bear market by those who are clueless, like Dennis Gartman, it appears that the gold bull is kicking at the gate:
Interestingly, so many people are bearish on gold right now and looking for a collapse in the price of gold. They don’t understand what is happening in the physical market. The bullish fundamentals I just described to you have enormous implications – London bullion trader
Here’s the short interview which is the source of that quote: LINK It is a must-read and the report of large "entities" going directly to gold producers in order to source large quantities of bullion is consistent with other industry insider accounts of this. I linked one a couple weeks ago.
"Interesting" from my viewpoint because I have pointed to some indicators that likely signal that we are near or at a bottom and that the next extended move higher in gold will likely take us to a new record nominal high in gold.
One of these signals as discussed yesterday is gold breaking its 200 dma to the downside. Currently the 200 dma is around $1618 using the Comex continuous futures contract (this would correlate to around $1615 on a spot price basis).
Another signal would be the current long/short Commitment of Traders (COT) structure of the hedge funds (large specs) and the big banks (commercials). For the duration of the gold bull market, market bottoms have been associated with a low relative net long position being taken by the large specs and a low relative net short position being taken by the price manipulating bullion banks. That this is the case is indisputable. Currently the large specs have a very low net long position and the banks have low net short position. I rehypothecated Ted Butler’s latest remark on the COT structure from Ed Steer’s Gold & Silver Daily:
I think the gold COT structure is back to a bullish set up, especially if the improvements after the cut-off are what I think them to be. As such, gold may also be at a price bottom, especially considering the bullish signals (or lack of bearish signals) coming from the gold physical market (ETF holdings, etc.). But to be fair, while gold is near bullish COT readings over the past year or so, on a much longer historical basis there may still be room for further liquidation. My personal sense is that we probably shouldn’t see big further speculative long liquidation in gold and may, in fact, be good to go to the upside. But if the COT structure in gold is bullish (as I think), then silver’s structure is screamingly, super-duper bullish.
Combined, the 200 dma plus the COT signals are quite bullish for gold.
One indicator that I have not seen commentary on is the COT set-up in the euro, and tautologically, the inverse set-up in the dollar. Currently, the large spec hedge funds are record short the euro, which means they also are very long the dollar vs. the euro. Conversely, the big banks are primarily the entities which would take the other side of the hedge fund bet, meaning the big banks are very long the euro and very short the dollar. This is very very bullish for gold. Take a look at this chart rehypothecated from http://www.barchart.com/
The green line that goes below zero starting in May is the short position of the large specs. You can see how the hedge fund position has shifted from long to short this year. The red line is the long position of the big banks. Why would the euro begin to move higher again rather than collapse, like everyone seems to think will happen? Because I have said all along that I wouldn’t be surprised if the EU figures out a way to save itself from extinction. Hell the U.S. is already printing money to bail out Europe via the up to $1 trillion currency swap facility arranged by the Fed. This is a de facto QE because it increases the size of the Fed balance sheet until the swap unwinds, if it ever does. This is printing and this dollar bearish. Just wait until the Fed has to start printing to fund 2012 Government spending programs…Don’t forget, what’s bearish for the dollar is bullish for gold…
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:39 pm
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com