Monday, February 17, 2014

Why We Don't Produce Enough STEM Majors . . .

Study Finds That One In Four Americans Don’t Understand This Basic Scientific Fact About the Earth
More than a quarter of Americans incorrectly believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth, according to a new study by the National Science Foundation.
Students are not going into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math studies in college because they lack even the basic knowledge to understand the world around them, much less than succeed in advanced studies.

Let's cut back on the group activities and student's "constructing their own knowledge" and get back to direct instruction of the knowledge they need.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Duplicitous . . .

Duplicitous -- adjective -- "marked or characterized by duplicity."
Duplicity -- noun -- "deceitfulness in speech or conduct, 
as by speaking or acting in two different ways . . . 
double dealing . . ."
"This legislation prevents our nation from defaulting, which has never happened in our history. . . . Default is entirely unacceptable for the United States of America and it would be painful for most every family and household I represent. . . .we need to pursue overdue reform to the long-term, structural drivers of our debt . . . I believe my constituents sent me to Washington to govern responsibly and not engage in petty politicking, so I look forward to resolving our serious fiscal problems in a thoughtful and productive way that allows us to stop borrowing from our children to spend on ourselves."
Rep. Hanna, why don't you and the other members of Congress recognize the existence of the debt ceiling when proposing new spending -- like YOUR spending proposal for universal Pre-k -- and stay under it?  The only reason why you are now forced to raise the ceiling to prevent "default" is because you and other members of congress are undisciplined, spending money that you already know we don't have.

Portraying yourself as concerned about borrowing while proposing a massive new spending program illustrates the definition of duplicitous, no? 

You may technically prevent a default, for now, by raising the debt ceiling, but you cannot not stop its effects from eventually happening. When the world starts thinking that we might not be able to repay our debts, the game is over.

We are just about there now.  Some countries have already stopped trading using the dollar, in spite of its status as the world's reserve currency, over fears that its value will no longer be there. When American companies issue bonds in other currencies (like Verizon's recent issue in Euros) the handwriting is on the wall.

The dollar will be devalued, like with other countries and their currencies, overnight. The value of a portion of people's lifetime savings will be wiped out.  And when people can't get their money out of the bank, there will be civil unrest.  And Congress' spending beyond our means will be to blame.

The debt ceiling is there to prevent over-spending.  Raising it only allows over-spending to happen.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

APPLE-Flavored Lipstick . . .

On the Common Core Pig?

When government leaders want to implement a program that proves unpopular, sometimes the program is re-branded with cosmetic changes (like a name change), but the program is still basically the same.  Is that the case with the Common Core reform package entitled “Achieving Pupil Preparedness & Launching Excellence (APPLE) Plan?”

According to Assemblywoman Malliotakis' website:
The APPLE plan solution addresses critical issues in the areas of Curriculum, Teacher Support, Funding, Student Anxiety, Special Education and Data Collection and concludes with two reform options recommended by members of the Assembly Minority Conference. Proposed solutions within the APPLE Plan include: 
  •  Stopping the rushed implementation of the Common Core State Standards; 
  •  Providing funding for professional development; 
  •  Eliminating the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA); 
  •  Reducing the over-reliance on student testing; 
  •  Reasserting that an IEP is the supreme document for the education of a child with special needs; and 
  •  Requiring that parents must consent to any disclosure of student information to a third party. 
“We need to put the brakes on Common Core implementation. You only get one chance to educate a child,” said Borelli. “Thanks to Ed Ra and the rest of the minority conference, we finally have a good plan in place for the proper education of our children.”
While the Assembly Minority members should be commended for producing a plan (available here) that addresses the most controversial aspects of the Common Core rollout, THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS STILL REMAIN.  These are standards that many psychologists are calling developmentally inappropriate.

As I blogged in December, there is a real problem with the Common Core Standards themselves, with their emphasis on performance over knowledge.  I concluded:

"Critical thinking" is "wisdom" . . . which comes with age and cannot be taught.  Common Core teaches the mimicry of wisdom while withholding the substance of it: knowledge.  

If you care about the next generation and the well-being of the nation, you will fight implementation of Common Core.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Universal Pre-K FAIL. . .

Rep. Hanna and Senator Gillibrand are at it again, promoting their "Strong Start for America's Children Act".
"If we expect our children to walk through the doors of our colleges and universities tomorrow, and succeed in our economy in the years ahead – we need universal pre-k," Gillibrand said in the release."High quality early learning leads to strong cognitive, social, emotional and language development – key skills for a bright future."
The problem with this proposal is that these things have been tried before, but research -- performed by think tanks on both sides of the political aisle -- shows that the results are inconclusive.

Heritage: Universal Preschool’s Empty Promises
For most children, “70 to 80 percent of the cognitive gains associated with attending prekindergarten have faded out by the spring of the first grade.”[19]
Brookings: Can We Be Hard-Headed About Preschool? A Look at Universal and Targeted Pre-K
If a year of Head Start does not improve achievement in elementary school, should we assume that a year of state pre-K does?
Since we now borrow 40 cents out of every federal dollar spent, should we borrow more to achieve inconclusive results?

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Predetermined Conclusions?

Per the OD: Hinckley Reservoir proposal elicits concerns for some, hope for others
The authority is asking permission from the state's Department of Environmental Conservation to withdraw up to 48.5 million gallons of water a day, the maximum amount it can legally take, said Patrick Becher, executive director of the authority.
As pointed out a month ago, although the application says 48.5 and MVWA confirms they are seeking 48.5 MGD, both the Notice of Complete Application and, now, the recent re-notice to extend the comment period only refer to "a maximum taking of up to 32 million gallons per day . . .."

Since MVWA seeks 48.5 MGD and has sent DEC plans to increase water treatment plant (WTP) and intake main capacity to accommodate 48.5 MGD, the language of the Notices (which were drafted by DEC) seems to suggest that DEC has already made the determination to issue the permit, but with withdrawals limited to 32 MGD (which happens to be the capacity of the existing WTP).

Another cue that a decision has already been made is the statement in the OD article coming out of DEC Central Office:
The DEC has considered the effect on the area wildlife if this was granted, and there doesn't seem to be an adverse impact, said Emily DeSantis, director of media relations for the department's hub in Albany.
Of course not!  MVWA's projection of an imperceptible increase in demand out to 2030 coupled with no specific expansion plans present nothing that would allow an impact to be identified  . . . But that would be putting the blinders on, ignoring: (1) that MVWA intends to draw 48.5 MGD, (2) that the new agreement with Canal Corp frees MVWA from any requirement to make compensating flows, (3) that no environmental impact study was ever made of the effect of that new agreement, and (4) that in 2007 we already had a water "emergency" caused in large part by the lack of compensating flows. That avoidable "emergency"  resulted in the fishery being shut down, harm to aquatic life, lost electric power generation, and lost income for many businesses.

It is difficult to believe that DEC's conclusion would apply when 32 MGD (much less than 48.5 MGD) is removed from the creek on a sustained basis during dry weather and the creek flows are allowed to drop to 160 cfs for prolonged periods of time . . . .  especially when no study has told us how much more often we can expect these minimum flows to occur.

One gets a feeling that just enough facts (i.e., the minimum projected increase in demand, unspecific "need" for water for economic development purposes in the 4 Towns) will be cherry-picked to justify a politically-motivated DEC (commanded from Central Office) to see no environmental impacts and "rubber-stamp" this application with a 32MGD withdrawal limit, which defacto already exists, to make it look like DEC is doing something.
If this happens, expect a slow degradation of the West Canada Creek as withdrawals increase over many years.  Maybe by the time the creek is completely destroyed, no one will remember what a magnificent stream it once was.