The Locker Room

August 06, 2008

Why few young Americans want to study science

Posted by George Leef at 2:17 PM

Peter Wood, executive director of the National Association of Scholars has this magnificent piece on Minding the Campus, in which he discusses the reasons why few young Americans study science.

Peter nails it, but will undoubtedly take tons of flak from the feminists, multiculturalists and educational progressives.

Something he didn't say but I think is relevant is that if you can't handle math, you won't go far in science. Unfortunately, elementary school math instruction is pretty weak.

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Google incentives in Governing magazine

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 2:11 PM

Secret negotiations for corporate relocation subsidies are the status quo in governments, but Governing magazine looks under the rug in Lenoir to expose some of how the $50 billion in tax breaks happen even though "often, government officials don't even know what company they're bargaining with or what states or cities [if any] they're competing against." Ted Levine of Development Counsellors International argues against transparency, but Greg LeRoy nails it: "This etiquette that's evolved is just really stupid policy." And these subsidies don't make sense for companies either.

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In Defense of "Road" Scholars

Posted by Jay Schalin at 12:20 AM

Today's Clarion Call features the Pope Center's Jenna Robinson offering a few kind words for all the various categories of college teachers who do not have full-time tenured positions, in response to a recent study that suggests adjunct professors perform poorly in comparison to their tenured counterparts.    

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Discovered: messiah fatigue?

Posted by Jon Sanders at 11:59 AM

The AP reports:

With Election Day still three months away, 48 percent said they're hearing too much about the Democratic candidate, according to a poll released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. Just 26 percent said the same about his Republican rival, John McCain. ...

At the same time, nearly four in 10 said they've been hearing too little about McCain — about four times the number who said so about Obama.

For a good example of this problem, click the "AP Photo" link under the attached Obama photo; you will see that it is one of 547 available Obama photos in the slideshow (as of this writing).

The comparable McCain slideshow of news photos comprises a relatively paltry 97 photos.

Still, this news must be apostasy to the media evangelists for the man who is, as Durham Mayor Pro Tempore Cora Cole-McFadden hailed him, "Anointed."

What more can they do? They just produced yet more photographic evidence of his holy radiance, his ever-present nimbus:

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Orr back in the water of constitutional law battles

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:44 AM

From the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law:

Raleigh, NC. — The North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law announced today that retired N.C. Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr has returned as Executive Director for the Institute.  In August of 2004, shortly after his retirement, Orr became the first Executive Director of NCICL.  He stepped down from his position at NCICL in May of 2007 to run for governor. 

Bill Maready of Winston-Salem, Chairman of the Board of Directors said, “We’re delighted to have Justice Orr coming back to NCICL.  His experience in helping start and lead the organization in its formative years, plus his 18 years of service on our state’s two highest courts is a great asset.”  Upon returning to NCICL, Orr expressed his excitement at being back with the organization.  “I have great appreciation for and loyalty to NCICL and its mission.  My work on the Supreme Court and my recent experience as a candidate for governor strengthened my belief that promoting a greater emphasis on and appreciation for the NC Constitution, and the rights it affords and limitations it imposes on government, is a necessary and important objective.  I look forward to working with the excellent staff at NCICL in fulfilling the Institute’s goals.” 

The North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, legal group that focuses on public interest.  The organization provides educational services on constitutional issues, particularly dealing with the NC Constitution, through the use of speakers, educational programs and advocacy efforts.  It also pursues public-interest litigation when appropriate, providing free representation for citizens and taxpayers on major public policy and constitutional law issues.   NCICL’s offices are located in Raleigh, but the organization provides services on a statewide basis.

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The need to reform class-action lawsuits

Posted by George Leef at 10:24 AM

Today's Wall Street Journal has an excellent article by two lawyers on the problems with our class-action lawsuit regime. Among other things, they argue that it's unconstitutional for judges to award money to people who weren't even plaintiffs in the case.

Is this something that Obama would view as "change"?

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How not to deal with illegal immigration

Posted by David N. Bass at 10:20 AM

A new federal program dubbed "Operation Scheduled Departure" hopes to get illegal immigrants to turn themselves in voluntarily to authorities for deportation. No one followed that suggestion in five cities — including Charlotte - that launched the program yesterday, according to the AP.

The plan's big problem: It offers no real incentive for illegal immigrants to turn themselves in. One man from Honduras put it succinctly in the story: "To turn yourself in so you can go home and live in a village with no work? If I wanted to do that, I would have stayed in my village. I wouldn't have risked my life to come here in the first place."

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Yuri Maltsev's farewell to Solzhenitsyn

Posted by George Leef at 09:45 AM

Our good friend Yuri Maltsev writes a wonderful farewell to Alexander Solzhenitsyn here.

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What's wrong with T.Boone's plan?

Posted by George Leef at 09:18 AM

Well, it really isn't a plan at all, argues Holman Jenkins in today's Wall Street Journal. Read his piece here.

"Talk is cheap. Talk favors radical solutions to get rid of problems that we are all sick and tired of hearing about. Calls for Manhattan Projects and moon shots invariably decorate the op-ed pages at such times. In a form of social peacockery, the greater the misallocation of resources proposed, the more lavish the ovation -- though here Mr. Pickens has already been outdone by Al Gore."

Take that.

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Flaws in NCLB's school choice provision

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 09:08 AM

If a low-income school does not meet academic standards under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, then parents are permitted to send their child to another school within the same school district.

The problem is that the district gets to designate the transfer options. I have heard complaints from parents that the school transfer options are usually not the ones that best meet their family's needs. Thus, relatively few parents opt out of their failing school.

To make matters worse, the US Department of Education recently granted a waiver that allows North Carolina public school districts to delay the transfer option and implement a tutoring program in its place. So, parents in some school districts will have to wait a year to be offered stinky transfer options.

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Tautological headline of the day

Posted by Jon Sanders at 08:43 AM

AP: "Paris Hilton issues tart rebuttal to McCain ad."

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Lowry remembers Solzhinitsyn

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 08:41 AM

Rich Lowry remembers Solzhinitsyn here.  For the JLF interns and anyone too young to remember his one man struggle against Soviet Communism, this article is must reading.

In "The Gulag," he showed how the Soviet system wasn't perverted by Stalin in the 1930s, but was murderous from the beginning, the sulfurous spawn of a Vladimir Lenin determined to rid Russia "of all kinds of harmful insects." He argued convincingly that Soviet communism was as evil and destructive as Nazism. But the central insight of Solzhenitsyn's work is not political or historical, but moral.

In his suffering, he gained insight into the twistedness of the human heart. "Gradually it was disclosed to me," he writes, "that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either -- but right through every human heart -- and through all human hearts."

Solzhenitsyn's suffering in the camps saved him from ideology: "It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good." And for that, he made the astonishing exclamation, "Bless you, prison, for having been in my life!"

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Liberal media, what liberal media?

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 08:14 AM

Brent Bozell looks at Helen Thomas' claim that there are no vocal liberals in the media here.  

According to Helen,

"Hell, no!" she thundered. "I'm dying to find another liberal to open their mouths [sic]. Where are they?"

Bozell replies with a long laundry list of vocal liberals in the media: 

Dan Rather predicts Big Oil will try to manipulate the election for John McCain: "The people who can affect the price of oil would prefer a Republican presidential candidate. Watch the price of oil. If it goes down, which it may very well, it could help John McCain quite a bit."

With a straight face, retiring New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse claims, "President Clinton played to the center, not the left, in selecting Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer." ... NBC labels the late Jesse Helms an "outspoken ultra-rightist," but waxed about Howard Metzenbaum as a "populist" who "always fought for the little guy."

Michelle Obama is off limits, but not Cindy McCain: 

In reference to John McCain's wife Cindy, New York Times reporter Alessandra Stanley writes: "As the Equal Rights Amendment faded as a cause and conservatism made a comeback, Republican spouses became ever more careful to stay three steps behind their men and the times." 

And my all time favorite, a liberal who does see bias in the media: 

CBS's Katie Couric sees bias now: "However you feel about her politics, I feel that Sen. Clinton received some of the most unfair, hostile coverage I've ever seen."

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Speaking of recommendations for improving public education

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:47 AM

Another Newsweek item on Teach for America includes the following (also unattributed, by the way, but I won’t quibble with that flaw twice in one hour):
It's the teachers, stupid! The single most important factor in student achievement is the quality of the teacher. And yet, we have no effective system to attract, train, retain and promote high-caliber candidates for our schools. Today's teachers score in the lowest quartile of college grads and too many of the schools that train them are diploma mills.

We’ll ignore for a moment the author’s failure to use a comma in a compound sentence. Instead we’ll recall that another Newsweek columnist identified last month one of the key factors holding back education reform: teachers’ unions.

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Wonder why American students are falling behind?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:45 AM

See if you can guess the item that caught my attention in this Newsweek story:
When Juan Hernandez moved to West Oakland from Bakersfield, Calif., one year ago, his asthma flared up. He used his inhaler more and more often and, eventually, had to give up his favorite sport: running. "I was huffing and puffing, but I thought, It's my own personal problem," says Hernandez, 17. Then, while working on a school assignment, he discovered otherwise. His environmental-law teacher sent Hernandez and his classmates on a "toxic tour" of their neighborhood: they walked around and wrote down what they saw, what they smelled and how they felt.

No, it’s not the asthma. A high-school student has an environmental-law teacher? Really? Is he learning the finer points of jurisprudence? Of course not.

Hernandez's program is one of a growing number that are helping turn young people from underprivileged neighborhoods into pollution sleuths and community activists.

Maybe Terry Stoops can help me; I couldn’t find “pollution sleuthing” and “community activism” among his recommendations for improving public education.

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This is journalism?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:43 AM

One of my favorite two-word combinations — “Says who?” — came to mind again as I read the opening of Christopher Dickey’s new Newsweek cover story on the impact of the presidential race in the South:

For as long as I've been alive the old Confederacy has been a land without closure, where history keeps coming at you day after day, year after year, decade after decade, as if the past were the present, too, and the future forever. Cities grew and populations changed in the South, but the Civil War lurked somehow in the shadow of mirror-sided skyscrapers; the holocaust of slavery and the sweet-bitter victories of the civil-rights movement lingered deep in the minds of people on both sides of the color line. Yes there was change, progress, prosperity, and a lot of it. Southerners put their faith in money and jobs and God Almighty to get them to a better place and better times—and for a lot of them, white and black, those times came. The South got to be a more complicated place, where rich and poor—which is pretty much all there was before World War II—gave way to a broad-spectrum bourgeoisie with big-time aspirations. But as air conditioning conquered the lethargy-inducing climate and Northerners by the millions abandoned the rust belt for the sun belt, the past wasn't forgotten or forgiven so much as put aside while people got on with their lives and their business.

Now this part of the country, where I have my deepest roots, feels raw again, its political emotions more exposed than they've been in decades. George W. Bush and Barack Hussein Obama have unsettled the South: the first with a reckless war and a weakened economy, the second with the color of his skin, the foreignness of his name, the lofty liberalism of his language. Suddenly the palliative prosperity that salved old, deep wounds no longer seems adequate to the task.

Oh, brother.

As I’ve suggested before, news stories heavy on the writer’s own opinion and utterly lacking in attribution are suspect from the start.

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:38 AM

Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Don Carrington's report on a state official's overstatement of the economic impact from a Monet exhibit at the N.C. Museum of Art. 

John Hood's Daily Journal focuses on the debate about North Carolina's gift tax. 

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