Tag Archives: Evaluation

On the issues: assessing the 2016 Republican presidential candidates

Latest Republican presidential primary polls
Latest Republican presidential primary polls (click for larger image)

The PDF is here. (50 pages, but you only have to read about the candidates you might consider voting for)

Unfortunately, radically leftist Politico is the only one with a write-up on it, so here goes:

The hard-line conservative arm of the Heritage Foundation has tough criticism for much of the 2016 field, but high praise for the Texas senator.

The political arm of The Heritage Foundation has released a detailed assessment of the 2016 Republican presidential field — and it offers harsh words for many candidates. But not for Sen. Ted Cruz.

Cruz receives almost exclusively praise for his stances in the 50-page 2016 presidential policy scorecard, the first of its kind produced by Heritage Action. The report grades the candidates across six categories: growth, opportunity, civil society, limited government, favoritism and national security.

Many of the lines in the scorecard appear destined for future attack ads.

Jeb Bush, for instance, is accused of having “kowtowed to the state’s environmental lobby” in Florida. Chris Christie “has shown favoritism toward well-connected real estate developers.” Rand Paul’s “views at times veer outside the conservative mainstream.” And Donald Trump backs “massive tariffs that would damage the American economy.”

Cruz, by contrast, manages to emerge with barely a blemish, receiving only softly worded critiques of his adopting “sound policies advanced by others” rather than crafting his own.

[…]“Cruz has been willing to pay a political price for taking on government favoritism,” the report reads.

The group even forgives Cruz for one of the few trespasses he has made against its positions, voting for a bill that served “as a bargaining chip for [Export-Import Bank] allies to secure reauthorization.” The report credits him for later switching his vote and then publicly attacking Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for allegedly lying about his plans.

Bobby Jindal, who is running hard to the right in Iowa, receives among the more glowing reviews. So does Marco Rubio, who angered the right with his pursuit of a comprehensive immigration plan after first being elected with tea party support.

The two current front-runners in the polls, Ben Carson and Trump, were dinged for their lack of a record on conservative causes and a lack of specifics in their visions. “His unconventional foreign policy prescriptions raise more questions of significant consequence than they answer,” Heritage writes of Trump.

Bush was singled out for some of the most biting critiques. “Has shown favoritism toward Florida special interests and supports amnesty” for undocumented immigrants, reads one bullet point.

In its 2016 assessment, Heritage dings Bush for not supporting recent efforts to defund Planned Parenthood this fall because he said he opposed precipitating a government shutdown. The report accuses him of “playing to President [Barack] Obama’s talking points rather than reinforcing conservatives.”

No, everyone knows that my list of candidates favors governors who have a history of putting in place actual policies that actually affected real people in the real world and got real conservative results. So on that score, Cruz and Rubio way down the list because they have achieved very little:

  1. Scott Walker
  2. Bobby Jindal
  3. Rick Perry
  4. Ted Cruz
  5. Marco Rubio

Ted Cruz’s Twitter feed and his overall feel to me is that all he does is talk, talk, talk. He just doesn’t have the record of Bobby Jindal at putting policies into place. For example, as governor, Jindal actually cut spending. He actually put in place pro-life measures that actually saved lives. He actually put in place a school choice program that helped low-income students get out of failing schools. He actually cut off funding for Planned Parenthood. He actually defended religious liberty. Cruz is just a senator, so he hasn’t got that proven record. I believe he would be conservative, but I feel safer trusting someone with experience.

Having said that, the more I read reports like this Heritage Action Scorecard report, I am finding out that Cruz has been willing to at least pay a price politically for doing the right thing at various times. So, although he does not have the accomplishments that the governors have, he has been willing to push conservative values when it was not to his advantage, politically. I have to admit, there is some value to this in one sense – we know that he would do what he says no matter what. But there is a problem with Cruz. We don’t know whether he is able to create clever policies that will draw the votes of independents and even moderate Democrats. That’s what Walker and Jindal were able to do. So, although I respect what the Heritage Action team have written, I am not changing my rankings.

Tonight’s debate

Be sure and tune in to both debates tonight on Fox Business, as I am expecting Jindal and Cruz to outperform their competitors in their respective debates:

Republican debate – Fox Business/Wall Street Journal

Time – Primary: 9 p.m. ET. Secondary: 7 p.m. ET

Location – Milwaukee Theater, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Moderators – Gerard Baker, Neil Cavuto, Maria Bartiromo

Primary: All candidates averaging at least 2.5 percent in four most recent national polls by Nov. 4.

Secondary: Remaining candidates averaging at least 1 percent in one of the four most recent polls.

Primary: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Rand Paul.

Secondary: Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum.

Candidates on my list are in bold. The debate will be live-streamed, so you have no excuses for missing it. This one promises to be a good one. The moderators will not be amateurs as with the Democrat-biased CNBC debate.

Readers vote: who is to blame for this problematic marriage? The wife or the husband?

Please read the excerpt from the article BEFORE you vote in the poll at the bottom of the post! Thanks.

Letitia the Damsel posted this article from the UK Daily Mail on my Facebook page. The article is written by a woman who rejects the traditional roles and responsibilities of women in marriage.

She writes:

My husband is the kindest, most considerate man in the world. During the seven years we’ve been married, Ben has done most of the cooking, cleaning and ironing without ever being asked.

He brings me an organic buffalo milk cappuccino every morning in bed and once spent hours making fresh syrup from rhubarb to add to my favourite champagne after I’d given birth. And yes, he works full-time.

But for all he does for me, anxious to make everything in my life better, he gets a raw deal in return.

I am shamefully neglectful of my wifely duties. In fact, I am the anti-wife.

The trouble is that I just can’t do the subservient partner thing. Ben is more likely to arrive at our home in Twickenham, South-West London, after a hard day’s work and find me having a manicure or checking Facebook than slaving over a hot stove.

This may make me sound selfish, but I’m just being honest. At 39, I’ve never ironed a single item of my husband’s clothing. I rarely cook for him either. Why would I bother when he’s so much better at it than I am?

Last Christmas, he produced a lavish three-course lunch and booked a 15th-century cottage for our whole family to eat it in. All I did was hold out my champagne glass for him to refill while saying: ‘Well done, darling.’

And if you think I reward his sterling domestic efforts with treats in the bedroom, I’m afraid I fail in that department, too. Intimacy is reserved only for his birthdays – and then just the ones with a zero.

I felt occasional pangs of guilt about our unusual dynamic during the first year of our marriage, but now I find it liberating. He even refers to me as the ‘household manager’ because I’m an expert in the art of delegation.

Recently, Ben’s job for an organic fruit and vegetable box delivery scheme meant he was away on business for three weeks.

Before he left, I found him packing the freezer with organic ready meals and ringing round for short-term nannies to take care of our children, Ronnie, six, and Stanley, two.

The truth is that I’m just too busy and involved in my career as a writer to be a traditional, caring wife.

I work from home and, like most self-employed people in a recession, I push myself to the limit. I set my alarm for 6am so I can squeeze in an hour of work before the school run and I often write until midnight.

My job often means being away from home during the evenings and weekends, which means the lion’s share of the childcare falls to Ben. Even when I am home, I keep one eye glued to my iPhone for fear of missing a work call.

Ben bemoans my inability to achieve a work/life balance. He sees the word ‘driven’ as a negative, while I think I’m aspirational and ambitious. Now, I know what you’re thinking – that I must earn more than Ben. But no, I don’t.

He’s the breadwinner and a domestic god. But my work is so all-consuming there’s little of me left to go round by the time I switch off my laptop. Don’t get me wrong – I love Ben very much and regard our marriage as happy. And he could never claim breach of contract because he always knew I was a workaholic. 

[…]When we began dating in 2003, I was helping to launch a woman’s magazine, which required me to be at work from 8am until 11pm.

It was Ben’s touching gesture of sending boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts to the office that made me realise what an excellent husband he’d make.

But when, in the early throes of our relationship, he mooted the idea I might one day be a ‘stay-at-home mum’, I bristled. ‘But my mum stayed at home for the first five years of my life,’ he said. 

‘That’s never going to happen,’ I replied sharply. The matter was never raised again.

[…]It’s my fault that he returns home to find no dinner and our children running amok.

But I work hard, too, and that changes everything. While I love my children deeply, wiping noses, bottoms and encrusted beans off the floor doesn’t inspire me in the way my work does.

I’m too busy to share the chores. After a day of writing, I feel happy and complete; after a day with the children, I am frazzled.

After the birth of our first son, I went back to my £60,000-a-year job as deputy editor of a national magazine and put Ronnie full-time into an eye-wateringly expensive nursery.

I felt guilty about it, and working 8am to 6pm every day and barely seeing my son just compounded that guilt. But I didn’t want to give up work.

You might think me self-obsessed, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay for my happiness.

Just before the birth of our second son, I decided to leave my job and pursue a career as a writer after being offered a generous redundancy package.

But instead of relaxing into my new job, I allowed work to seep into all areas of my life.

That is why I ignored cripplingly painful contractions ten minutes apart and carried on writing to meet a deadline.

I was back at work just two weeks after giving birth to Stanley, breast-feeding while conducting tricky phone interviews.

Now that you read the excerpt, please vote in the poll:

I’ll vote and comment later tonight to say how I voted.

By the way, if you like the articles that Letitia finds, you can hear her on her Visible Conservative podcasts on Fridays. Here’s the most recent one and the opening monologue transcript is here on Letitia’s blog. If you’re like me, and you like hearing conservative women talk passionately about issues that matter, you’ll love this podcast. I never miss it.

UPDATE: I voted and my vote was to blame the man entirely. He chose this woman to marry and to mother his children. He knew she was unqualified to be a wife and mother and married her anyway. It’s ALL HIS FAULT. She is completely innocent because she was bad BEFORE the marriage and he knew it.

You cannot blame a bad woman for continuing to act badly after you marry her. If she is bad before, she’ll be bad after. If she has no moral standard for marriage before, then she’ll have no moral standard after. She doesn’t BELIEVE that she is doing anything wrong – either before or after marriage. You can’t blame her for acting according to her own feminist worldview. It’s the MAN who is to blame for choosing her.

The man shouldn’t even be opening his mouth to complain about her after he chose her. He chose her, and he has no right now to blame her or complain about it. You can’t expect traditional wife and mother behavior when you marry someone who explicitly repudiates those roles. Blame the man 100%. And what’s more he is EVIL to have inflicted this on his children.

You can’t go to the pet store and pass by all the cats, dogs and birds and buy an alligator then complain when you get the thing home and it bites your arms off. It’s a freaking alligator, and you knew that when you bought it. It’s your fault.

Audio, summary and review of William Lane Craig vs. Stephen Law debate

You can also download the audio at Apologetics 315.

Scorecard:

Craig’s case:

  • The origin of the universe: Law had no response.
  • The moral argument: Law denied that there are objective moral values.
  • The resurrection argument: Law told a story about a UFO sighting.

Law’s case:

  • The evidential argument from evil: Law later denied that evil existed, thus undermining his entire argument. Christian theists DON’T consider it evil when people suffer, if that suffering is necessary in order to get people to know God. We don’t agree with Law’s definition of evil that “people suffering” is automatically evil – because there can be a morally sufficient reason why that suffering is allowed by God to happen, since his goal is not our happiness but for us to know him. Law was not able to show how we know that God doesn’t have a morally sufficient reason to permit the evils we do see. And he has to prove that in order to assert (in his premise 1) that gratuitous evil exists. How does he know that? How does he know that some specific instance of evil is pointless for the purpose of improve the knowledge of God overall? The one good thing that Law did was to press Craig to defend his premise that if God doesn’t exist, then objective moral values also don’t exist. Craig did talk about how if there is no God, then morality is just a herd morality that evolves by accident, though.

Final score: 3 to 0 for Craig. Law was better than Craig’s average opponent though, for all the snarky things I might say about him, below.

Below is the snarky summary of the debate. I sometimes paraphrase entire sentences and insert commentary in order to explain what’s going on without the spin.

William Lane Craig opening speech:

Two contentions:

C1) There are good reasons to think that God exists.
C2) There are no good reasons to think that God does not exist.

Arguments for the existence of God.

A1) The origin of the universe

1. Whatever begins to exist requires a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe requires a cause.

The beginning of the universe is confirmed by philosophy and science.

An actual infinite number of past events is impossible. The concept of an actual infinite is mathematically unintelligible for the operations of subtraction and division.

Cosmologists have now proven that any universe that is now in a state of expansion must have begun to exist, independent of any physical description of the model. Even speculative alternatives to the current Big Bang model require a beginning at some point.

The cause of the universe must be transcendent and supernatural. It must be uncaused, because there cannot be an infinite regress of causes. It must be eternal, because it created time. It must be non-physical, because it created space. There are only two possibilities for such a cause. It could be an abstract object or an agent. Abstract objects cannot cause effects. Therefore, the cause is an agent.

A2) The moral argument.

1. If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist.
2. Objective morality does exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.

Michael Ruse, an atheist philosopher agrees that if God does not exist, then there is only a “herd morality” that is determined by biological evolution and social evolution. There no objective moral standard, just different customs and conventions that vary by time and place. Anyone who acts against the herd morality is merely being unfashionable and unconventional.

Dr. Law affirms objective morality in his written work (but can he ground it on atheism?).

In order to be able to make a distinction between good and evil that is objective, there has to be a God to determine a standard of good and evil that is binding regardless of the varying customs and conventions of different people groups. Even when a person argues against God’s existence by pointing to the “evil” in the world, they must assume objective moral values, and a God who grounds those objective moral values, in order to make the charge. Therefore, it is impossible to complain about the evil in the world without assuming the existence of God.

A3) The resurrection of Jesus.

1. There are certain minimal facts that are admitted by the majority of historians, across the ideological spectrum; the empty tomb, the post-mortem appearances of Jesus, the early belief in the resurrection of Jesus.
2. Naturalistic attempts to explain these minimal facts fail.
3. The best explanation of these facts is that Jesus rose from the dead.

Craig’s opponent thinks that Jesus never existed, a position that virtually no historian holds.

Stephen Law’s opening statement:

A1) The evidential argument from evil

1. Gratuitous evil exists.
2. God would be able to remove evil, would know about the evil, and would want to remove gratuitous evil.
3. It is implausible that God exists.

There are moral evil actions committed by agents
There are natural evils like earthquake.

Animals suffer. e.g. – from being eaten by other animals.
Humans suffer, e.g. – from disease.

Craig’s cosmological argument does prove that a Creator exists, but the evidential argument from evil proves that this Creator is not good.

If the Creator really were good, then we would all be spared from all suffering, both physical and mental, because God has no morally sufficient reason for allowing anyone to suffer. God, if he existed, would prevent humans from committing moral evil by removing our free will. God would also prevent us from having any unhappy feelings caused by natural evil.

A2) Theodicies offered by Christians fail

Freedom Will Theodicy: An evil God might like to allow humans to have free will.

Laws of Nature: An evil God might like to have laws of nature to allow predictable consequences.

Afterlife compensation: An evil God might like an evil afterlife to make us suffer more.

Craig’s first rebuttal:

RA1) Law’s evidential argument from evil fails

The mere presence of evil is not a problem if God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting instances of evil. Since Dr. Law is making the claim that God would not allow the evil, then he has to bear the burden of proof for showing that there is no morally sufficient reason for God to permit evil and sufering.

The purpose of life on the Christian view is not merely to have happy feelings. The purpose of life on the Christian view is coming to know God and having a relationship with him. Many evils that are not good for giving us happy feelings may be good for getting us to think seriously about whether God is there and what to do to have a relationship with him.

Theists don’t infer the goodness of God because they survey the universe and find lots of good things. They infer the goodness of God based on the mere fact that they are aware of an objective moral standard of good and evil, and inalienable human rights, and they identify God as the source of that standard of Good and evil. Those things cannot exist unless there is a God to ground an objective standard of right and wrong. Since the source of the standard is God’s own unchanging nature, he cannot act in a way that is evil.

Moral evil actually proves the existence of God. If Dr. Law claims that there is moral evil, then he has to have an objective moral standard that allows the distinction between good and evil. The only way to make an objective distinction between good and evil is if there is a Design for the universe that determines what is good and evil. And a design for the universe requires a Designer of the universe.

With respect to animal suffering, any ecosystem require predators in order to control population. For example, in Canada, Canadians have had to reintroduce wolves into the ecosystem in order to cull the populations of caribou, which was de-stabilizing the ecosystem. Since humans depend on the existence of these animals, God has to allow these predators in order to balance the ecosystem.

Animals do not suffer pain the same way as humans do, research shows that although they suffer pain, they are not aware of that suffering in the way that humans are. Once you understand the biology of animals, you understand that they do not experience pain the same way as humans.

Law’s first rebuttal:

Craig thinks that you need an objective standard in order to judge things as objectively good or evil. But that’s false. I can use my subjective opinions to claim that some things are objective evil. If God doesn’t do what I like (prevent moral and natural evil), then he isn’t objectively good. I don’t need to buy into the notion of objective good and evil in order to say that something is good or evil. I can say that something is good or evil while denying the existence of objective good and evil. (IMPORTANT NOTE: DR. LAW HAS AT THIS POINT RETRACTED HIS SUPPORT FOR OBJECTIVE MORAL VALUES, WHICH MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE TO EMPLOY THE EVIDENTIAL ARGUMENT FROM EVIL)

Dr. Craig says that I think that people determine the goodness or evilness of God by counting good things and evil things. But that’s false. My argument is that people determine the goodness or evilness of God by counting good things and evil things. It’s completely different!The presence of good things undermines the existence of evil God, and the existence of evil things undermines the existence of good God.

Craig’s second rebuttal:

Dr. Law has not yet responded to any of the 3 arguments for God’s existence.

A1) No response to the argument from the origin of the universe. How can you admit to a Creator of the universe and still be an atheist? His argument from evil doesn’t refute a supernatural cause of the universe.

A2) Dr. Law is now denying that objective moral values exist, contrary to his written work. This means that he is not able to use the terms “good” and “evil” intelligibly. He is merely expressing his subjective opinions, and therefore he cannot press the evidential argument from evil, because there is no such thing as evil, objectively speaking, on his view. It’s just his personal preference.

A3) No response to the argument concerning the resurrection.

RA1) He has to show that God doesn’t have morally sufficient reasons for permitting the evils we see. He admits that he can’t.

He says that the world is morally ambiguous and you can’t infer the goodness of God by counting the amount of evil and good in the world, just like you can’t infer the evilness of God by counting the amount of evil and good in the world. And that’s correct, and theists don’t infer God’s goodness by counting good and evil instances. The point is that if you can’t infer God’s goodness or evilness by counting instances of good or evil, then you can’t infer that God isn’t good, because you don’t know whether God has a morally sufficient reason for permitting the evils that we see. And it’s the atheist’s burden of proof to show that God DOESN’T have a morally sufficient reason, and Dr. Law is unable to do that.

Dr. Law says that you don’t need to have a standard of good and evil to press the problem of pain and suffering. But if you deny that there is any good or evil independent of pain and suffering, then you can’t impugn God’s goodness because you don’t have a standard in place to say that gratuitous pain and suffering is evil.

Any event that occurs in history can have effects far into the future or in another country. Physicists understand that small effects can trigger results that cannot be foreseen. And what this means is that humans are simply not in a position to know whether God has a moral sufficient reason for permitting specific instances of evil.

Finally, the purpose of life on the Christian view is not to have happy feelings and be free from suffering. God’s purpose for us is to know him and to be rightly related to him. Many instances of evil may be pointless for making people feel good, but may be effective for drawing people towards God.

Law’s second rebuttal:

RA2) The vast majority of philosophers reject the moral argument, for example Richard Swinburne. (No reasoning for the denial is explained, just the denial of the argument’s effectiveness by citing Richard Swinburne as an authority). This is a fallacy of arguing from an authority.

Dr. Craig has to prove that no atheistic account of morality can be given. He has disprove them all, even the ones that no one has thought of yet. It’s not my job, AS THE ATHEIST, to prove that I can give an account of objective truth of moral claims can be given ON ATHEISM. I don’t have to do anything except stand here and speculate about some possible account of morality on atheism and I win.

The existence of objective moral values is not obvious to me. I.e. – I don’t see anything objectively wrong with torturing babies for fun, it’s a matter of opinion. I also don’t see anything evil about those things that I said were evil in my first speech. I was just kidding, people, can’t you take a joke? It just seems to some people like Dr. Craig that there are objective moral values, but actually there aren’t. Dr. Craig merely wants to believe that evil is real, but actually it isn’t. Except when I want to argue that it is in in my evidential argument FROM EVIL.

RA3) Although the majority of ancient historians accept the historicity of the empty tomb because of the early sources, multiple attestation, enemy attestation etc., the tomb was not empty because of this story I’m going to tell about a UFO.

Although virtually all ancient historians accept the post-mortem appearances because of the early sources, multiple attestation, etc., the post-mortem appearances did not occur because of this story I’m going to tell about a UFO.

Although virtually all ancient historians accept the early belief that Jesus was bodily resurrected because of the early sources, multiple attestation, etc., the early belief that Jesus was bodily resurrected did not occur because of this story I’m going to tell about a UFO.

Craig’s final rebuttal:

A1) Dr. Law accepts that the universe was created by an eternal, non-material, uncaused being. What a strange sort of atheist, who admits that there exists a supernatural Creator of the universe.

A2) Dr. Law employed the fallacy of arguing from authority. But Dr. Craig can cite a much longer list of atheists who agree that if God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist, e.g. – Nietzche, Russell, Sartre, Mackie, etc. Consistent atheists understand that if there is no God, there is no design for how the universe ought to be (natural evil), or how we ought to be (moral evil).

A3) We have to be careful when inferring a supernatural explanation and use objective criteria. All natural explanations fail to explain the full set of minimal facts that virtually all historians accept. In addition, the resurrection takes place within a religio-historical context where one might expect God to intervene if what Jesus was saying was true.

RA1) You can’t disprove God’s goodness by appealing to instances of evil, nor can you disprove God’s evilness by appealing to instances of good. This is because humans are not in a position to assess the ripple effects of permitting any instance of evil (good). It is therefore possible and inscrutable as to whether God has a morally sufficient reason for permitting any and all instances of apparent evil (good).

Dr. Law’s final rebuttal:

A2) There is a lot of pain and suffering in the history of the world. This is a challenge to God’s goodness because God’s purpose for us is to make us happy, and not at all for us to know him or for us to be related to him, as the Bible says.

Here’s my argument. Craig thinks that you can determine God’s goodness by counting instances of good and evil in the world, although he explicitly denies that. And I’ve actually done the counting and found that you can’t determine God’s goodness because there’s too much gratuitous evil. Never mind what Craig said about the ripple effect through time and space, or about chaos theory, or about morally sufficient reasons. These instances of gratuitous evil I’m telling you about have no morally sufficient reasons, in any time or in any place. Trust me, I looked everywhere and in the future, using my time machine.

Now, in my argument, when I said the word evil, I don’t really mean evil, because to use an objective standard of good and evil, I would have to have a moral lawgiver to ground that objective standard. So when I say moral and natural evil, I don’t mean moral and natural evil, I actually mean things that I don’t personally like. So I’m going to change my argument’s name to the Evidential Argument From Things That I Find Yucky.

Dr. Craig provided no justification for his premise that “if there is no God, there there are no objective moral values”. And it’s not my job to produce an atheistic theory about how objective moral values could exist, especially since my argument from evil relies on objective moral values.

A3) UFOs.

In Los Angeles schools, only 45% of students can read at grade level

From Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

There’s a law in California that requires school districts to take student progress into account when they evaluate teachers. The statute goes back 40 years; language specifically prescribing the use of statewide tests was added to it in 1999.

Until a court ruling last week, this idea of judging teachers by measurable results was pretty much a dead letter. Union opposition saw to that.

But a group of parents and students filed suit to force the Los Angeles city schools to follow the law. School Superintendent John Deasy, though nominally a defendant, was on their side. This was all about pushing the teachers’ union into the 21st Century.

On June 12, Superior Court Judge James Chalfant ruled for the plaintiffs. He noted that the current system of review gave 99.3% of the district’s teachers the highest possible rating in the 2009-10 academic year, when only 45% of students performed at grade level in reading and 56% did so in math. In a bit of judicial understatement, he said this process “provides little meaningful evaluation.”

The reaction of United Teachers Los Angeles to Chalfant’s decision was a teachable moment about union attitudes. A statement from UTLA President Warren Fletcher praised Chalfant for declining to rule on the question of whether a new evaluation system had to be worked out in collective bargaining. In other words, the union still holds out the hope that results-based assessment of teacher performance can be stymied at the negotiating table.

[…]The real dividing line is between those who cling to the old ways — rewarding teachers by seniority, course work and credentials — and those who believe in making teachers accountable for how well their students learn.

The latter group is a rising force. According to a 2011 report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, 24 states required teacher evaluations to have “objective evidence of student learning.”

California was not among those states at the time, but last week’s ruling should push it in that direction. And the more that unions resist such progress, the more they will cement their public reputation as guardians of mediocrity — or worse — in the teaching ranks.

Teacher unions protect underperforming teachers from having to care about what their customers – parents – think of them. You will never get good service when you are forced to pay for public schools through taxes. The only way to make teachers care about children is to put the money back into the parents’ pockets and then let them choose a school that works for them. Then, and only then, will schools serve parents.

New study: low family income not a major cause of low student achievement

From PhysOrg.com.  Please click the “Like” button below and tweet this one on Twitter. This is one to share.

Excerpt:

Family income is associated with student achievement, but careful studies show little causal connection. School factors – teacher quality, school accountability, school choice – have bigger causal impacts than family income per se, according to a new analysis by Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG).

The analysis, prepared by PEPG director Paul E. Peterson, calls into question the Broader, Bolder Approach (BBA) to educational reform that has been advanced by a group of education scholars, teacher union leaders, and non-profit groups. The BBA recommends that proposals to enhance teacher quality, school accountability and student choice be dropped in favor of policies that would redistribute income and provide support services to families outside the regular school day.

Peterson focuses on a paper presented by Duke University Professor Helen F. Ladd, a BBA co-chair, which was given as the presidential address before the Association of Public Policy and Management in Washington, D.C. in November of 2011, and is widely regarded as the key scholarly work underpinning BBA. Peterson’s article, “Neither Broad Nor Bold: A narrow-minded approach to school reform,” is available at http://www.educationnext.org and will appear in the Summer, 2012 issue of Education Next.

BBA’s mission statement holds: “Weakening that link [between income and achievement] is the fundamental challenge facing America’s education policy makers.” Peterson agrees that the connection between income and student performance “is no less true in the Age of Obama than it was in the Age of Pericles.” But, he points out, most of the connection is not causal, but due to other factors. He cites a study by Julia Isaacs and Katherine Magnuson (Brookings Institution, 2011), that examines an array of family characteristics – such as race, mother’s and father’s education, single parent or two-parent family, smoking during pregnancy – on school readiness and achievement. The Brookings study finds that the distinctive impact of family income is just 6.4 percent of a standard deviation, generally regarded as a small effect. In addition, Peterson calls attention to earlier research by Susan Mayer, former dean of the Harris School at the University of Chicago, which also found that the direct relationship between  and education success for children varied between negligible and small.

[…]“A better case can be made that any increase in the achievement gap between high- and low-income groups is more the result of changing family structure than of inadequate medical services or preschool education,” Peterson says. In 1969, 85 percent of children under the age of 18 were living with two married parents; by 2010, that percentage had declined to 65 percent. The median income level of a single-parent family is just over $27,000 (using 1992 dollars), compared to more than $61,000 for a two-parent family; and the risk of dropping out of high school increases from 11 percent to 28 percent if a white student comes from a single-parent family instead of a two-parent family. For blacks, the increment is from 17 percent to 30 percent, and for Hispanics, the risk rises from 25 percent to 49 percent.

Peterson notes that most of the proposals to lift  that Ladd and her BBA colleagues offer, such as expanded social services, preschool, and summer programs, ignore the many hours children spend at school and amount to a “potpourri of non-educational services (that) have never been shown to have more than modest effects on student achievement.” He points out that many school reforms – merit pay, school vouchers, and student and school accountability – have been shown to have had equivalent or larger impacts. For example,  accountability initiatives have raised student performance by 8 percent of a standard deviation. Initiatives to improve teacher quality have the potential of raising  performance by 10 to 20 percent of a standard deviation.

Read the rest here, this is important. So long as we keep looking to big government to solve all of our problems. We should instead be looking to our own good decision making, our own families and the free enterprises system.