The Locker Room

April 24, 2009

How do you like it? How do you like it?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:06 PM

More, more, more, of course.

The out-of-tune lyrics of the old Andrea True Connection hit drifted through my head as I read the following in the latest print version of U.S. News:

More money. More teachers. More time. The oldest recipe for school improvement is "more."


"More" is a winning political strategy. It avoids hard choices or the need to identify waste. But excellence requires finding ways to accomplish more rather than to get more. Plus, we have tried the "more" strategy. Largely because of a hiring binge that has boosted teacher ranks 50 percent faster than enrollment over 35 years, school spending has skyrocketed. After inflation, spending has tripled in four decades. The results? Not so great.

I suspect Terry Stoops would agree with this assessment from Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

For more on Terry's prescription for the ills that plague North Carolina's public schools, click here.

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Another example of the seen and the unseen

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:44 PM

Gov. Beverly Perdue says a new series of signs saying "Jobs Now" will promote construction projects funded by federal stimulus dollars.

Since these jobs can be funded only by taking resources out of the private sector that would have gone toward creating other jobs, perhaps someone should develop a sign that says "No Jobs Now" and hand them out to overtaxed entrepreneurs.

Since no can tell which entrepreneurs would have succeeded in creating new jobs — more efficiently than the government — we're left with another classic case of "seen" versus "unseen" consequences.

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Re: Oedipus wept

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:16 PM


I think that movie might have been better if it had featured some snakes fighting monkeys (or a mongoose).

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Oedipus wept

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:59 AM

The infamous "Snakes on a Plane" made its television debut recently, and here is the famous line after the TV edit:

"Enough is enough! I have had it with these [monkey-fightin'] snakes on this [Monday-to-Friday] plane!"

That is glorious.

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How the president and I celebrated Earth Day

Posted by David N. Bass at 10:09 AM

My carbon footprint was minimal. I took a warm shower and drove to work. Oh, and I breathed a little, too.

What did the president do? Mark Knoller of CBS News enlightens us:

President Obama took two flights on Air Force One and four on Marine One.

The press office at Andrews AFB wouldn’t give me the fuel consumption numbers for the 747 that serves as Air Force One without the approval of the White House Press Office, which as I write this has yet to be given.

But Boeing says its 747 burns about 5 gallons of fuel per mile. It’s 895 miles from Washington to Des Moines, so a round trip brings the fuel consumption for the fixed-wing portion of the President’s trip to 8,950 gallons.

The trip also put President Obama on Marine One for round-trip flights between the White House and Andrews AFB and between Des Moines International Airport and Newton, Iowa, site of his Earth Day speech. It totaled about an hour of flight time. The VH-3D that serves as Marine One consumes about 1200 pounds of fuel per hour which comes out to about 166 gallons consumed flying the President today.

By my calculation, I could drive to and from work for over 17 1/2 years and use the same amount of fuel that our first "green" president did in one day -- and on Earth Day, no less.

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My R-Line adventure

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:47 AM

I finally decided to see what the buzz was about and hop on the R-Line, Raleigh’s new circulator bus for downtown. Daily passenger counts average 333 riders, and the “free” buses cost $6.60 per passenger per trip (math courtesy of Michael Sanera). So, what could be more exciting than taking a morning and afternoon joy ride?

In an effort to get a better idea of how busy the R-Line typically is, I rode the bus in mid-morning and mid-afternoon and separated the trips by a week. Not very scientific, but who doesn’t enjoy a good anecdote?

Trip No. 1: Thursday, April 16

I boarded the bus about 10 a.m at the Morgan St./Harrington St. stop. One gentleman got off at that stop, and another stayed on until the Moore Square Deck. Ergo, there were only two passengers (including myself) on the bus for half of the trip, and only one passenger (myself) for the other half. It was awfully lonely.

Trip No. 2: Thursday, April 23

I boarded the bus about 3 p.m. at the same stop. Six people were on the bus, including me. It reached a maximum of 10 riders and a minimum of three during the trip (again, including me). The average was around six riders.

Barry Sanders of the N&O describes his own experience riding the R-Line here (“Riding the eco-friendly bus allows you to look down on -- literally and figuratively -- the saps who drive their own cars through downtown traffic,” he writes).

Josh Shaffer of the N&O offers his own insights here, including this painfully true observation:

A month ago, the city rolled out three new buses that loop continuously around downtown, giving free rides until the wee, small hours.

So I wanted to see the urban grit that hides from Raleigh's daylight -- the wild and naked streets lit by the pink neon of a bail bondsman's sign.

I wondered what lonesome strangers ride these nighttime coaches, each of which cost taxpayers $565,000.

Maybe, I thought, this new R-Line will bring Raleigh the real-city credentials you find in the depths of a Boston subway stations: the newsstands, the buskers and the rattling trains.

But as I dreamed, I looked around the bus and discovered that Raleigh's after-midnight underground consisted of: me.

Personally, I would have rather taken my $6.60 and bought lunch.

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Re: Fannie Flono and the savior state

Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 09:45 AM

Does Fannie know that John Modest is leaving West Charlotte? To join Mo Green and Nora Carr is Guilford County?

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Fannie Flono and the savior state

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:40 AM

So, Charlotte Observer editor Fannie Flono likes the fact that state education bureaucrats are going to intervene in the fiscal, organizational, and educational affairs of the Halifax County school district. No surprise there.

But Fannie acknowledges that (surprise!) it takes competent people, not state intervention, to improve a school.

In response [to Judge Manning's threat to close low performing schools], then-Gov. Mike Easley sent turnaround teams to the districts. CMS took drastic action, establishing its Achievement Zone to focus intensive effort on struggling schools, putting proven effective principals in the schools and moving out poorly performing teachers and moving in more of the highly effective ones.

That's paid off at several schools. West Charlotte is a stellar example. Since John Modest became principal in 2005, the school has zoomed from less than 40 percent at or above grade level to over 60 percent.
Notice in the above quote that the actions of the school system, not then-Gov. Easley, improved schools like West Charlotte. That improvement came about by hiring competent administrators and teachers, not via state turnaround teams. And it doesn't (or shouldn't) require a bunch of consultants from DPI to tell a school board and superintendent that they need to purge ineffective personnel and hire competent school and central office staff.

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This weekend on Carolina Journal Radio

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:47 AM

Some college students would rather shell out cash for someone else’s work than spend time researching and writing their own essays. George Leef explores the impact of “essay mills” during the next edition of Carolina Journal Radio. He’ll also discuss with Donna Martinez the continuing impact of grade inflation.

Some students never head to college, and at least one state lawmaker has been leading the charge for improving career and technical education in the public schools. You’ll hear comments on the subject from Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, and other supporters of career and tech education.

We’ll hear two different takes on elements of the Senate budget plan. Sen. Dan Clodfelter, D-Mecklenburg, will explain why that budget plan included money from tax increases that were not explained in detail. Joe Coletti also will discuss the “mystery” tax increases and other highlights within the Senate budget.

Plus we’ll learn about some recently discovered evidence that sheds new light on philosopher John Locke’s attitude about slavery, courtesy of N.C. State historian Holly Brewer.

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:40 AM

This week's Carolina Journal Online Friday interview features Donna Martinez's conversation with Roy Cordato about the lingering appeal of discredited Keynesian economic ideas.

Speaking of Roy, his guest Daily Journal focuses on the role enviromental advocacy has played in steering gas tax dollars away from the state's basic transportation needs.

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