Obama Cuts Wasteful Government Program

 

Yet another triumph for the Obama administration:

“In an effort to reduce wasteful spending and eliminate non-vital federal services, the U.S. government announced plans this week to cut its long-standing senator program, a move it says will help save more than $300 billion each year…..”

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Palin Urges her Followers to Confront People with Obama Stickers

Because it worked out so well the last time someone tried it, Sarah Palin is urging her followers to stop drivers with Obama bumper stickers on their vehicles and confront them (at 2:55):

“…that bumper sticker you see on the next Subaru driving by, an Obama bumper sticker. You should stop the driver and say, “So how is that hopey, changey thing working out for you?”

Hmmm…I guess personal rights only extend to the Right?  Because I guarantee if it was the other way around, there would be outrage, including threats of shooting any lib’rul that had the gall to accost them.  But I guess it’s ok to seek out, harass, and intimidate anyone who may have voted for Obama?  Hypocritical, much?  

In any event, I’m not exactly sure what she means by “stop them.”  I’m using my imagination and it’s not panning out too well for anyone.   Irresponsible, reckless, and downright creepy, one has to wonder what on earth she was thinking when she spoke…or whether she was thinking at all.   I think if she’s going to issue an edict such as this she should probably add specifically that they are not to run folks off the road to do this, because it’s not clear, and frankly, I don’t have a lot of faith in the intelligence of people who listen (voluntarily) to someone babble on and on about anything “hopey changey.”

Speaking of which, that hopey changey stuff is working out brilliantly for me – I’m glad you asked.  The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act was signed this week.  The Obama administration has set out some huge, promising changes to NCLB.  He unveiled a comprehensive energy plan just this morning.

Yes there is still a lot to do and no, I don’t agree with everything he has done.  But I’m optimistic.  We’re getting there.  And we moving forward rather than continuing to stagnate, despite the economy and sad state of foreign affairs inherited from the prior administration, so yeah, I think it’s working out just fine.  Thanks for asking, Sarah!

Remember…

NCLB II

On March 13, 2010, the Obama administration set out its proposed revisions for the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).  I’m keenly interested in this move for a number of reasons, primarily because I have three children who will be affected by it.

NCLB is widely believed to have been very well intended, one of the few actions by President H.W. Bush that I think has any true merit.  Unfortunately, put into use, it has many practical flaws, many which should have been anticipated and others perhaps not.  I don’t think it is a complete failure in that it had some positive results, but by far, not what was intended – there are children “left behind” regularly and as a nation, we are certainly falling far behind in our children’s education, especially in science and mathematics.

Some basic successes include increased test scores, increased accountability for low-performing schools, narrowed educational disparity between white and minority children, the choice to enroll at a different school if the home school is considered failing, and increased funding to “Title I” schools (schools with more than 40% of children receiving free/reduced price meals).

Some of the oft-noted criticisms include a learning focus on standardized tests, no provisions/incentives to provide for above-grade performing or gifted children, lowered state standards so as to appear more successful, creatively classifying low-performing and at-risk children so as to appear more successful, lack of non-English assessments for non-English speakers, and a narrow scope of testing/curriculum, among other problems.

The changes would overhaul this system and attempt to focus on many of these criticisms.  You can read more of the proposed changes here.

The proposed changes call for states to adopt standards that ensure students are ready for college or a career rather than grade-level proficiency — the focus of the current law.

The blueprint also would allow states to use subjects other than reading and mathematics as part of their measurements for meeting federal goals, pleasing many education groups that have said No Child Left Behind encouraged teachers not to focus on history, art, science, social studies and other important subjects.

And, for the first time in 45 years, the White House is proposing a $4 billion increase in federal education spending, most of which would go to increase the competition among states for grant money and move away from formula-based funding.

By 2020, all students graduating from high school would need to be ready for college or a career. That’s a shift away from the current law, which calls for all students to be performing at grade level in reading and math by 2014.

Give more rewards — money and flexibility — to high-poverty schools that are seeing big gains in student achievement and use them as a model for other schools in low-income neighborhoods that struggle with performance.

Punish the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools using aggressive measures, such as having the state take over federal funding for poor students, replacing the principal and half the teaching staff or closing the school altogether.

Some critics contend that not all children need to be “college-ready” because many will go on to service industry jobs or other fields that don’t need college degrees.  Even so, I think it’s an admirable effort – even someone who is not bound for higher education is done no disservice by preparing him or her should she decide to attend – there is nothing bad about pushing kids to reach their potential, even while realizing that some have more potential than others.  In addition, kids would be offered career training, for those who are not college bound.

As divided as the country is on the healthcare issue, education might be one of the concerns that brings the country closer – every parent, every family, wants the best for their children.  By all accounts, left and right, but most importantly by educators, our children are simply not being served well by NCLB.  I think this education reform package will be a really positive move that may cost us in the short term, but reap dividends later. 

I’ll be keeping my eye on these developments and doing some more research on this matter – I haven’t done all my research yet, I’ll admit, but what I have seen does look positive as a parent.

What is a well-educated child worth?  I’m not sure, but I’d estimate quite a bit in terms of innovation for our country, scientific developments, even just self-sufficiency or being a productive member of society. 

Perhaps more telling, what does a poorly-educated child cost us in terms of social assistance, in terms of prison upkeep, and in terms of perpetuation of poverty?  A lot – a whole lot.

12 Year Old to be Charged as Adult with Double Homicide

In 2009, eleven year old Jordan Brown, shot his father’s girlfriend to death while she was sleeping.  She was eight months pregnant at the time; the fetus did not survive.

Jordan is being charged as an adult in the case rather than as a juvenile, per state law.  Pennsylvania law mandates that every person over the age of ten who is charged with homicide be tried as an adult.

The crime was heinous.  It was unprovoked.  The fetus, at that stage, would have easily been viable if born at that time.  The limited facts available make me wonder how on earth a child of only eleven could harbor so much anger and bitterness that he took it out on an unarmed, sleeping, mother-to-be.  Was he driven to it somehow or is he just wired wrong – a sociopath, lacking empathy?

But to charge him as an adult? No matter what evidence there is or what his motives, eleven year old children do not think like adults.  It is well documented that children of that age still lack impulse control.  Most live in the now – they lack foresight.  The hormones are kicking in, subjecting kids (and parents) to unpredictable mood swings.  Many children of that age lack the ability to think abstractly.  These are the reasons that juvenile law exists, in fact…because eleven year olds are not and will never be emotionally developed like an adult. 

It’s one thing to say that he understood that guns can kill and a different thing to say that he understood the ramifications with the same depth that an adult does – it’s simply not possible.

This is a poorly conceived law.  I have a feeling it was someone’s political baby – a knee jerk reaction to kids “getting off” for serious crimes, but there are intermediate solutions, less drastic ones than the life in prison, which Jordan now faces. 

Of course he should be punished, but to shut the iron bars on a twelve-year-old and write him off forever seems so very premature.

Consider this also:  The gun used to shoot the victim was a youth model 20-gauge shotgun owned by Jordan. 

I’m no fan of firearms in homes, but I realize that it is our constitutional right to do so and that many people find them fascinating or think they need them.  And if kept safely, I don’t have a problem with that.  Guns must be kept locked and out of the reach of children at all times.  This one was not, obviously.

There are so many things I’d like to know about this heartbreaking case.  Who thought a shotgun would be a good thing for an eleven year old to own?  Was there any effort made to secure it?  Is the father being charged with making a firearm accessible to a minor or endangering a child (depending on the laws in PA)?  Was there any suspicion of abuse in the family?  Were there any warning signs at all?  If so, was counseling sought? Why was Jordan so upset?

The father has lost his girlfriend and, effectively, two children.  As a parent, it’s devastating to think about.  Gun ownership may be a right, but it comes with heavy responsibility, too.  I would suspect that Jordan was taught to use the gun safely.  His dad is probably a hunter.

Eleven year old lack predictability.  They lack foresight.  They often cannot think abstractly.  They lack impulse control.  They are awash in poor judgment.

No child should ever be left with a gun unattended – not a six-year-old, not a ten-year-old, not a fifteen-year-old.  It pains me to think that anyone should learn that lesson this way, but Jordan’s father is certainly not the first parent to make this mistake.  He surely won’t be the last.

Jordan made one terrible mistake.  He lashed out and it cannot be undone now.   Maybe it’s one of many horrors he would have committed if left to his own devices?  Or maybe he’s a decent kid who would have gone on to college, grown up to a be a productive member of our society, and made a wonderful dad one day but for one, fateful, devastating choice at eleven years old? Certainly I don’t know the answer.  And while upsetting to think about, given the given the current law in Pennsylvania, I don’t think it really matters.

Article here.

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