Why teacher salaries should not be based on test scores

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I can’t think of a better way to explain why most teachers don’t want their raises based on student test scores.

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How Washington Ruined Governors

National Journal has a long analysis on how state politicians are getting themselves tangled up in national politics (“How Washington Ruined Governors“).

It seem clear that there are many governors who would rather play on the national stage than do serious work at home. Traditionally, America has seen the political ambitions of our governors motivate them to make their leadership within the state as a proving ground for the presidency. They used their time in the state house to demonstrate that they could produce the best education, roads, etc. ¬†Today, its seems that governors are simply trying to be the most liberal/conservative. George W. Bush ran for the presidency bragging about Texas schools and touting his ability to work with members of both parties. You don’t hear much of that these days.

The preferred path of many governors seems to be very different today and the states have suffered in this process. Too many governors would rather battle over federal issues than pursue reforms at home. After all, it’s easier to complain about the federal government than to fix your own.

Today’s partisan battle lines often have little to do with the concerns of most voters. Too many politicians want to spend their time taking rigid about ineffective border walls and dramatic wars on drugs while most voters hold more nuanced views about the world they live in. Organized interests are diving much of the public debate. These organized interests thrive on the divisive, misleading language of fundraising letters designed to scare people into coughing up money for ads designed to scare even more people (while much of the money actually goes to the care and feeding of group leaders and political consultants). Whether it’s the National Rifle Association stirring up fears that the government will take away the rifles of hunters or the left’s claims of efforts to deliberately starve seniors, the debate is both contrived and counterproductive. There was a time when state leaders would calm the waters and help find solutions. There seems less interest in that today because the business of compromise and coalition building just doesn’t appeal to fringe groups.

Here’s a quick video overview of the story:

Nick Anderson

Nick Anderson has become my favorite political cartoonist . He has a fun visual style and does a pretty good job of irritating both sides.

A recent cartoon did a great job of capturing the dilemma of health care costs. As a few Texans have noticed, many people are already getting “free” health care by showing up at hospital emergency rooms even though they can not afford to pay the bills. This leaves local governments and private hospitals to pass these costs along to the other patients at the hospital or taxpayers in general. The next time you’re looking at a big bill ask the hospital why it’s so high. They’ll tell you that part of what you’re paying is to cover the expenses for those who checked out without paying.

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Anderson really irritated some people with a recent cartoon on Obama’s proposal to change the way cost of living increases are calculated for future Social Security recipients.

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Anderson’s cartoon depiction of the hysterical overreaction of some was quickly mirrored by angry overreaction from readers. Life imitated art as one ready told him: “Obama has proposed, endorsed, pushed a budget that DELIBERATELY is designed to kill off senior citizens.” I suspect that Anderson thought his cartoon might make some people think about the overly dramatic rhetoric floating around the issue. Some readers just weren’t that interested in thinking about the subject.

Income inequality in the states

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has put together a report (“Pulling Apart: A State-by-State Analysis of Income Trends“) that looks at differences in income inequality across the states.

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There are a lot of causes behind this inequality that seem ripe for classroom discussion.