The Locker Room

August 22, 2006

Re: The assault on charter schools

Posted by Hal Young at 9:16 PM

Joseph correctly observed, It is possible that some parents enrolled their under-performing child in a charter school to escape a traditional school, and it takes a while to decontaminate the student.

We see the same thing in the homeschooling community when a struggling child is "brought home". It's sometimes called "de-schooling"; if a kid has had a bad time in the schools, it takes a while to convince them that (a)"learning" is not the same as "classroom", and (b)things are going to be different now. Our advice to families is usually to make a commitment to themselves to homeschool for a full year simply to get themselves over that transition. The first two months seldom look like the eight and ninth.

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Re: Legal Defense Funds

Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 8:12 PM

Jim Black is getting $30,000 in state money to pay his legal bills. Money that is not instead going, say, to a broken criminal court system in Mecklenburg.

Black wanted -- I believe -- up to $200K. When that was turned down, Black set up his is legal defense fund.

Jim Black, private citizen, is perfectly welcome to a secret legal defense fund. Jim Black, powerful lawmaker, is not.

Congress and the executive branch report donors -- the Senate down to a very low $25 threshold. And Lord knows we were all plenty embarassed by Yan Lin Trie, his sacks of cash, and the Clinton Legal Defense Trust.

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IRS Plan to Collect Taxes

Posted by Daren Bakst at 5:32 PM

The IRS is outsourcing some tax collection responsibilities to some private firms.  This policy brings up many issues: serious privacy and taxpayers' rights questions, and it would cost more than simply hiring agents.  The flip side (at least to some) is it might be a more effective way to collect taxes.

Apparently, the House already has passed an amendment that would deny funds for this program.  The Senate hasn't taken action on it.  It may not seem that interesting, but I think this IRS policy brings up a lot of serious and competing concerns.

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Re: Legal Defense Funds

Posted by Daren Bakst at 3:56 PM


Absolutely not.  I don't think that taxpayers/government should be funding his legal defense fund or anyone else's legal defense fund.  I know from at least this article, that Black requested to spend state funds to defend himself, and a proposed legislative provision would have allowed legislators to use state funds to hire private lawyers.

However, his request was turned down by the AG (Cooper).  I'm not sure what happened to the legislative provision nor am I sure what situations it would've covered.

If taxpayer dollars are involved, then this also changes my view as it relates to donors.  The public then does have the right to know who is donating money.  I didn't think that taxpayer dollars were involved though, but I certainly could be wrong.

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Private or state park?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:54 PM

This news brief explains that Gaston County commissioners want the state to take over private Chimney Rock. 

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New Website - School Choice in North Carolina

Posted by Lindalyn Kakadelis at 3:49 PM

Even though Phi Delta Kappa released their findings today, stating  public support for vouchers is declining, the school choice movement now has its own website in North Carolina.
Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) launched its website today.  This organization's mission is to inform parents of the benefits of expanded educational options (school choice), and to empower parents to exercise the freedom to meet their children's needs.  This website contains valuable information to inform the public regarding the school choice movement nationally and statewide.  This single focused organization has the ability to bring philosophically diverse individuals together agreeing only on the school choice issue.  Check it out!

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Re: Lawnmowers (Git 'r Done!)

Posted by Michael Moore at 2:13 PM


Speaking of lawnmowers, something that I know a little about.  Here is the trailer to that flim" "The Straight Story."

Git 'r Done! 

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Re: Legal defense funds

Posted by Paul Chesser at 2:09 PM

Daren, do you think government (i.e. taxpayers) should be footing any or all of the legal expenses for Black?

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Legal Defense Funds

Posted by Daren Bakst at 1:50 PM

I expect many of you will disagree, but I don't think Jim Black or any politician should have to disclose or even voluntarily disclose the donors to his legal defense fund.  The N & O argued that Black should voluntarily provide the names of donors to his fund and the amounts.   For those donors that want to remain anonymous, according to the
N & O, Black should simply return their money.  The paper also calls for legislation next year to address this issue.

It is one thing when we are dealing directly with public business, such as campaigns or the legislative process--reasonable disclosures are needed.  Since this is Black's personal legal defense fund, even if it is being used to defend against alleged government-related violations, it is still his personal legal defense fund.

Can someone, including "special-interests" (a.k.a. a group of individuals with shared interests coming together to influence policy when acting alone they couldn't make a difference) curry favor with a politician by helping out with the fund?  Yes, they sure could--but that is their right and not the public's business.  The individual's right to defend himself/herself outweighs any interest that the public has in this information.

The N & O argues:

"It may be unlikely, but here's a troubling possibility: An elected official could move large sums of unregulated money from his defense fund into his campaign treasury."

If this happens, then appropriate action can be taken at that time.  We shouldn't pass laws that are overbroad so we can protect against a few possible bad scenarios.

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re: Franz Ferdinand

Posted by Jon Ham at 1:31 PM

You kids. How was I to know. The last Scottish rock band I listened to was these guys, and they were pretty good.  

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Speaking of Lawnmowers

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 1:21 PM


 Lawnmowers can be a primary mode of transportation.  I highly recommend the movie "The Straight Story."  Richard Farnsworth, cowboy turned actor, drives his lawnmower across country to visit his estranged brother.  He was nominated for the best actor for this role, the oldest actor ever nominated in this category.

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PDK Poll

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 1:05 PM

Today Phi Delta Kappa released their annual poll on the public's attitude toward public schools.

As usual, this year's results champion public schools. In past years, the Friedman Foundation found that the wording of the poll's questions is biased against private schools. They found that small wording changes in the PDK questions produced significantly different responses.

FYI - Here are some findings from the PDK poll:

The 2002 question found that 69 percent of the public expressed a preference for improvement through reforming the existing system. The number this year is 71 percent. By contrast, just 27 percent of respondents in 2002 preferred seeking an alternative system, and that figure is at 24 percent for 2006.

The percentage favoring vouchers dropped from 38 percent a year ago to 36 percent this year, while opposition grew from 57 percent to 60 percent. Support for vouchers started at 24 percent in 1993, fluctuated up and down for years, and peaked at 46 percent in 2002. It is now at the mid-90s level.

Public approval of charter schools has climbed from 42 percent in 2000 to 53 percent in 2006.

In 1990, 73 percent faulted the effect of societal problems and 16 percent the performance of schools. The corresponding figures this year are 70 percent and 22 percent. When asked in 2002 about the achievement gap, 66 percent attributed it to other factors, and 29 percent to the quality of schooling received. The corresponding figures this year are 77 percent and 19 percent.

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Re: Franz Ferdinand

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:04 PM


For many people, Franz Ferdinand is a hyperactive Scottish rock band with Bowie-like sexually ambiguous song lyrics, rather than the hated Austrian archduke whose death proved far more significant than his life.

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Goldfinger wanted to talk too

Posted by Jon Ham at 12:23 AM

Iran says it wants to hold six-nation talks now about their nuclear intentions. I think I'd be a bit leery of any conference set up by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The first thing I thought of was Auric Goldfinger calling all the mafia bosses to a meeting and then gassing them in a sealed room.

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Why we need private roads...

Posted by Jenna Ashley Robinson at 12:14 AM

Cops tell 85-year-old to stop using mower as primary form of transportation.

Is that against the law?

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I thought the world of Policy and Politics was dangerous.....

Posted by Michael Moore at 11:21 AM

I know that it can be dangerous in the world of Policy and Politics, well one person does have a black eye in the office this week.  This sport might have its similarities to the world of policy and politics.

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Oil-rig Armageddon?

Posted by Jon Ham at 11:15 AM

August 22 was supposed to be some big deal, according to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Nobody knew what might happen. The resulting concern by his readers even caused Glenn Reynolds to re-link to his disaster preparedness post. Turns out that it was all about an oil rig. Still, big things can follow little things. Does the name Franz Ferdinand ring a bell?

(WaPo link via Hugh Hewitt

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The assault on charter schools will begin in one hour

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 11:11 AM

The National Center for Education Statistics just released a report that finds that traditional schools are outperforming charter schools in reading and mathematics, even after adjusting for student characteristics. The study also found that charter schools not affiliated with a public school district scored significantly lower on average than public noncharter schools. On the surface, this suggests that government school students, both in traditional and public charter schools, come out on top.

The study includes several important caveats. First, it notes, "the data are obtained from an observational study rather than a randomized experiment, so the estimated effects should not be interpreted in terms of causal relationships." In other words, this study does not mean that charter schools produce lower-performing students. It is possible that some parents enrolled their under-performing child in a charter school to escape a traditional school, and it takes a while to decontaminate the student. This is related to a second concern that, "students currently enrolled in charter schools have spent different amounts of time in one or more such schools." We can assume that children who spend more time in a charter school will perform better than those who recently transferred to the school will. The research model is unable to control for this factor.

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Re: New NCCBI Leader

Posted by Daren Bakst at 11:02 AM


I find it strange that there is a concern that he (Ebert) will be an aggressive pro-business advocate.  I don't want to go out on a limb, but he's supposed to represent the interests of businesses.

From the article:

"Other groups fret about how he might throw his group's weight around on issues in which business has an interest, such as compensation for injured workers." 

The trial lawyers apparently are worried about this.  I love trial lawyers as much as everyone else, but he isn't supposed to represent them or care about what "frets" they have.

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Justices and dwarves

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:58 AM

Thank TIME for this valuable information:

24% Percentage of Americans polled who could name two U.S. Supreme Court Justices

77% Percentage who could name two of Snow White's seven dwarfs

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Prepare for Free Market Health Bashing (via M. Moore)

Posted by Chad Adams at 10:50 AM

From the master of anti-free-market propoganda himself, ahead of his new film "Sicko", Michael Moore had this to say

"Back in February, I asked if people would send me letters describing their experiences with our health-care system, and I received over 19,000 of them," he wrote. "To read about the misery people are put through on a daily basis by our profit-based system was both moving and revolting. We've spent the better part of this year shooting our next movie, 'Sicko.' As we've done with our other films, we don't discuss them while we are making them. If people ask, we tell them 'Sicko' is a comedy about 45 million people with no health care in the richest country on Earth." 

Apparently Moore fails to recognize one of the major misconceptions of our health care system is that health insurance is NOT health care.  The problems are with the abuse and management of health insurance.  But why would Moore care to make that distinction when there's so much more money to be made without it?  45 million w/o health care???  Again, that would be w/o health insurance. .

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Giant Magnet in North Carolina

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 10:29 AM

David Murdock donated the world's first 950-megahertz superconducting magnet to the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis. Aside from allowing scientists to examine three-dimensional structures of molecules, it will allow Murdock to join the X-Men.

Joke tip: Coletti

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What kind of college is that again?

Posted by Jon Ham at 10:13 AM

The News & Observer follows on a Locker Room post of last week to tell its readers that "an entirely different kind of liberal-arts college" has scrapped plans to locate in Oxford, NC, and has settled on a site near Altavista, Va. What makes this college "entirely different," according to the N&O? Here's what they say about it:

Called Founders College, the four-year school would operate as a for-profit residential campus with a copyrighted, liberal-arts curriculum, an emphasis on teaching over publishing research and admissions criteria that do not include SAT or Advanced Placement test scores.

But they leave out the bit that makes this college "entirely different": It will be based on the philosophy of the late Ayn Rand.

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If you want to live to 120, consider Puerto Rico

Posted by Chad Adams at 10:00 AM

Having spent some of my childhood there, I'm still somewhat fascinated with the place.  In reference to Sanera's post about Cuba, one might actually want to move to Puerto Rico where the world's oldest living man is celebrating his 115th birthday today. (sans propoganda)

Rice, beans and chicken, no cholesterol drugs and how did he get that old w/o pharmaceutical companies?  

He was called up by the U.S. Army to fight in World War I - although the war ended before his training was completed.

Mercado was born in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, on Aug. 21, 1891.


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Lean budgets with pork?

Posted by Paul Chesser at 10:00 AM

The Washington Times today begins an occasional series which will apparently cover various races for the U.S. Senate, and starts with the Pennsylvania contest between incumbent Republican Rick Santorum and his challenger, Democrat Robert Casey, who currently leads polls. Perhaps a bit surprisingly (but justifiably), this story comes off (to me) as unflattering to Santorum, emphasizing the decisions he's made that are less than conservative:

Typical of his campaigning these days was a stop earlier this month at the Pittsburgh Zoo, where he boasted to local reporters about how he'd fetched $500,000 from federal taxpayers to build one of the most luxurious polar-bear exhibits outside Arctic climes.

"They're building underwater tunnels so you're actually under water," Mr. Santorum told his awe-struck children as they toured the construction site and approached a tunnel of 4-inchglass that will allow zoo visitors to view the bears from below.

After the zoo event, Mr. Santorum was asked whether funding for the polar-bear exhibit really was all that important, given the federal government's hemorrhaging debt, looming financial crisis in entitlement programs and expensive emergencies, such as the war in Iraq and rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina.

"If the pot of money is there, I'm going to make sure we get a piece of that money," said Mr. Santorum, who defended his record of support for "lean" budgets.

That's the wrong answer for some of his longtime supporters.

"Where does the federal government get the constitutional right to take $500,000 from people to build a polar-bear exhibit?" asked Charlie Clift, who has supported Mr. Santorum in every past election.

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Small Schools

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 09:27 AM

Judge Manning (the Leandro Guy) wants struggling high schools to literally "pick a theme" and immediately begin converting to smaller, redesigned high schools under the NC New Schools Project (NSP). NSP is Governor Easley's darling.

Guilford County Schools is on board. Guilford Superintendent Terry Grier (who never found a state program that he didn't like) has jumped at the chance to fund ($8 million at last count) and create a handful of new Learn and Earn schools and schools within a school. More are on the way. The state received a $10.4 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and legislators recently approved a $14 million appropriation for high school reform. Governor Easley wants 75 redesigned high schools in place by 2008.

News & Record reporter Jennifer Fernandez is asking the right question, "...will smaller schools lead to better schools?" Independent evaluations of small, redesigned Gates schools show that small school size does not guarantee student success. Results were mixed, at best, with some schools making improvements and others on the brink of collapse. This does not phase Easley, Manning, and Grier, who rely on the belief that "smaller is better" to gain the approval for their experiments.

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Want to live to be 120? Move to Cuba!

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 09:20 AM

The Left's enthusiasm for communist dictatorships never ends.  The younger set will not remember that in the 1960s the Left admitted that Castro was a dictator, but this should be overlooked because his regime supplied all of the people with education and health care.  Here is the latest version of this nonsense from the BBC.

Moreover, we are told in typically Orwellian fashion, shortages are really a blessing in disguise. After all, are the Cubans not lucky to be spared the scourge of fast food and passenger cars? Walking and a "balanced" diet, Harris [the BBC reporter] informs us, are the ingredients for a long and healthy life. The Cubans even have an association that promotes healthy living on the island. The vice-president of the 120 Club, Professor Gerardo De La Vera, recommends that in order to live to 120, one has to start by moving to Cuba. A government employee praising Cuba to high heaven? What a surprise.

This type of reporting was made infamous by Pulitzer Prize winning NYT reporter Walter Duranty who ignored and covered up Stalin's starvation of an estimated 14 million people in the Ukraine in the early 1930s.  I recommend Robert Conquest's excellent book on the famine,  The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine and Eugene Lyon's first hand account of 1930s life in the Soviet Union, Assignment in Utopia

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Re: Lebensraum

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:13 AM

Reminds me of the Chinese restaurant in Tokyo called Mao. Unlike the other restaurant, this was an unintentional reference to an historical butcher. But in Japanese, "mao" is the sound cats make, while the chairman's name is pronounced "Moe."

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Happy Days in Morgantown

Posted by Shannon Blosser at 08:54 AM

Allow me to take a moment to celebrate some good news coming out of the campus of West Virginia University. President David Hardesty has announced his retirement from the school effective Sept. 20, 2007. As a WVU graduate, Hardesty really didn't understand his role as university president and under his tenure the school has received a "Red Light" status from FIRE for numerous First Amendment violations on campus.

Hardesty was notorious for the creation of speech zones on campus, especially near the Mountainlair (student union), which is one of the most congested traffic areas in Morgantown, W.Va.  After a controversy that included, if I remember correctly, student groups carrying a casket with the words "free speech" on it down the steps in front of the Mountainlair, the Board of Governors passed a policy that was less harmful to the First Amendment.

By many in the WVU circles, Hardesty will be regarded as the man who was president when the school had some national successes in football and basketball (let's not forget he tried to control the tradition of setting couches on fire as well). But, his legacy should also include how Hardesty attempted to do an end around the First Amendment and lost.

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I never saw that one coming

Posted by Jon Ham at 08:39 AM

The N&O's Barry Saunders, the race portion of the race, class (Dennis Rogers) and gender (Ruth Sheehan) stable of N&O local columnists, blames Wal-Mart for Andrew Young's ill-advised (same say bigoted) remarks the other day. Who could have predicted that?

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What's It All About?

Posted by John Hood at 08:33 AM

No, Iím not directing the above question to Alfie. Instead, Iím responding with a chuckle to a passage in a column by Bruce Bartlett, an excellent economics columnist and former JLF Headliner speaker. The author of Impostor, which bashes President Bush up one side and down the other for conservative apostasy, Bartlett has some kind words for the president and his advisors now. What made me laugh was this construction:

The first big improvement was installation of Joshua Bolten as White House chief of staff. Although he has been known to snub me at social events for my criticisms of the president, nevertheless I believe that he is far better than his predecessor, Andy Card.


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New NCCBI leader worries interest groups

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:16 AM

The new leader of the state's most powerful business lobbying group has logged an entire day on the job, so we have no way of knowing how he'll affect future debates over taxes and regulation.

But the N&O finds that the education establishment is already worried. The trial lawyers' lobbying group is also raising concerns. 

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