Tag Archives: Math

New study: gambling hurts the poorest people in society

The Albany Times-Union reports on a new study on gambling. (H/T Al Mohler podcast)

Excerpt:

Few things are clear about the expansion of casinos in New York, but additional slot machines will add significantly to problem gambling and may not be economically rewarding for the state, according to a fresh study by the Institute for American Values.

Note, the IAV’s president is a pro-gay-marriage moderate. Don’t be fooled by the conservative name.

More:

The institute’s new report, “Why Casinos Matter,” is based on several government and academic studies here and abroad. The authors arrived at several conclusions:

The new American casino is mostly a center filled with slot machines — essentially sophisticated computers designed to addict players. The machines figure out betting patterns and provide just enough in rewards to keep a person hooked for hours. “The more you play, the more you lose,” the report says, backing up the statement with findings by MIT anthropologist Natasha Schull. Schull details her observations in the 2012 book “Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas.”

Modern slot machines “engineer the psychological experience of being in the ‘zone’ — a trancelike state that numbs feeling and blots out time/space. For some heavy slot players, the goal is not winning money,” the study said.

Casinos depend on problem gamblers for their revenue base, drawing 40 to 60 percent of slot machine revenues from these people, many of whom are low rollers.

Living near a casino or working at a casino increases the chance of becoming problem gambler. Those who live within 10 miles of a casino are twice as likely to be a problem gambler than those who do not.

Problem gambling is more widespread than many casino industry leaders claim. The problem gamblers frequently go to a casino, and their lives and livelihoods may be adversely affected by their betting. They are not necessarily the heavy gamblers who are pathological and who suffer from increasing preoccupations to gamble and a loss of control.

The benefits of casinos are short-term and easy to measure, but many costs pop up during the longer term that are harder to quantify. Economic stimulus fades after the casino becomes a dominant business that drives out established local businesses, such as restaurants, replacing them with pawnshops, auto title lenders and check-cashing stores. And since problem gambling develops over four to seven years, the stress on families and finances may gradually become apparent.

State regulation of casinos creates a conflict of interest. Government is supposed to protect people from harmful business practices, but the state is a partner with casinos or is co-sponsoring gambling. In New York, the Cuomo administration announced last week that it anticipates $430 million a year in annual revenues — $192 million for local governments and $238 million for schools or property tax relief — from four new upstate casinos. The New York Division of the Lottery reported almost $9 billion in revenues last year, a record, with more than $3 billion of that going to public education.

Although people on the left, like Mario Cuomo, like to talk about helping the poor, they actually favor policies that hurt the poor. It’s very important to separate what people say in front of cameras with what effects their policies actually cause. Good effects are more important than good intentions.

Is public school a viable option for Christian parents?

A couple of quick anecdotes from Yahoo News first, then we’ll see the numbers.

Excerpt:

Take the case of Petrona Smith. She says in a lawsuit that she was fired from teaching at Bronx PS 211 in March 2012 after a seventh-grader reported that she’d used the “N” word, according to The New York Post.

‘Negro.’

Smith doesn’t deny using the word. But she argues that everyone uses it, when speaking Spanish. She was teaching the Spanish words for different colors, and the color “black” in Spanish is “negro.” She also taught the junior high school students, in this bilingual school, that the Spanish term for black people is “moreno.” And by the way, Smith, who is from the West Indies, is black.

And more:

The Akron Public Schools Board of Education voted in January to pursue the firing of Melissa Cairns. She was a math teacher at Buchtel Community Learning Center.

The school district said that Ms. Cairns posted a photo on her personal Facebook page which showed 8 or 9 out of her 16 students with duct tape across their mouths. The caption read: “Finally found a way to get them to be quiet!!!” The district says a colleague of Cairns’ notified a supervisor of the photo.

[…]This past week, Cairns was officially fired because “She showed a lack of good judgment. Her conduct was unbecoming of a teacher,” Akron Public Schools spokesman Mark Williamson told Newsnet5.

He went on to explain it wasn’t the use of the duct tape, but the posting of the photo of children on Facebook that showed poor judgement.

As you know, you can’t fire public school teachers for incompetence or sexual abuse of children.

Excerpt:

He worked just one year as a full-time teacher in New York. But he has collected nearly $1 million for 13 years for doing almost nothing.

Aryeh Eller, 46, a former music teacher at Hillcrest HS in Queens, is the longest-sitting “rubber room” teacher in the city. He was yanked from the classroom in 1999 and confessed to repeated sexual harassment of female students, according to a 2000 investigative report.

[…]Since his 1999 suspension, he has collected $943,000, plus health and pension benefits — and the total will hit $1 million this year.

Now let’s see if this focus on political correctness instead of results is working for taxpayers and students.

The Wall Street Journal:

Over the last four decades, public education spending has increased rapidly in the United States. According to the Department of Education, public schools spent, on average, $12,922 per pupil in 2008, the most recent year for which data are available. Adjusting for inflation, that’s more than double the $6,402 per student that public schools spent in 1975.

Despite that doubling of funds, just about every measure of educational outcomes has remained stagnant since 1975, though some have finally begun to inch upward over the last few years. Student scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—the only consistently observed measure of student math and reading achievement over the period—have remained relatively flat since the mid-1970s. High school graduation rates haven’t budged much over the last 40 years, either.

You can find more data to flesh out those claims linked at the Heritage Foundation think tank.

To remove any doubt, just take a look at the libertarian Cato Institute’s graph on public school spending vs scholastic achievement. We are are wasting money indoctrinating kids in political correctness. The extra money that we are spending on education isn’t going into making students smarter or more productive.

Should the government restrict men’s participation in STEM fields?

Hans Bader from the Competitive Enterprise Institute is concerned about politics being injected into science.

Excerpt: (links removed)

Quotas limiting the number of male students in science may be imposed by the Education Department in 2013. The White House has promised that “new guidelines will also be issued to grant-receiving universities and colleges” spelling out “Title IX rules in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.” These guidelines will likely echo existing Title IX guidelines that restrict men’s percentage of intercollegiate athletes to their percentage in overall student bodies, thus reducing the overall number of intercollegiate athletes. (Under the three-part Title IX test created by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, where I used to work, colleges are allowed to temporarily comply by increasing the number of female athletes rather than cutting the number of male athletes, but the only viable permanent way to comply with its rule is to restrict men’s participation relative to women’s participation, reducing overall participation.) Thus, as Charlotte Allen notes, the Obama administration’s guidelines are likely to lead to “science quotas” based on gender.

[…]Obama hinted that Title IX quotas would soon come to engineering and techology, saying that “Title IX isn’t just about sports,” but also about “inequality in math and science education” and “a much broader range of fields, including engineering and technology. I’ve said that women will shape the destiny of this country, and I mean it.”

What causes more men to go into the STEM fields than women?

Gender disparities in a major are not the product of sexism, but rather the differing preferences of men and women. The fact that engineering departments are filled mostly with men does not mean they discriminate against women anymore than the fact that English departments are filled mostly with women proves that English departments discriminate against men. The arts and humanities have well over 60 percent female students, yet no one seems to view that gender disparity as a sign of sexism against men. Deep down, the Obama administration knows this, since it is planning to impose its gender-proportionality rules only on the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), not other fields that have similarly large gender disparities in the opposite direction.

Many women are quite capable of mastering high-level math and science, but simply don’t find working in such a field all that interesting. As Dr. Sommers notes, many “colleges already practice affirmative action for women in science,” rather than discriminating against them. Susan Pinker, a clinical psychologist, chronicled cases of women who “abandoned successful careers in science and engineering to work in fields like architecture, law and education,” because they wanted jobs that involved more interaction with people, “not because they had faced discrimination in science.” Far from being discouraged by society from pursuing a career in math or science, these women had been strongly encouraged to pursue such a  a career: “Once they showed aptitude for math or physical science, there was an assumption that they’d pursue it as a career even if they had other interests or aspirations. And because these women went along with the program and were perceived by parents and teachers as torch bearers, it was so much more difficult for them to come to terms with the fact that the work made them unhappy.”

As Susan Pinker notes, “A mountain of published research stretching back a hundred years shows that women are far more likely than men to be deeply interested in organic subjects—people, plants and animals—than they are to be interested in things and inanimate systems, such as electrical engineering, or computer systems.”

Is this good for our economy? Should we be discouraging the best male students who want to study science and engineering to do their education abroad in Canada or Europe? Should women be steered into careers that may make it harder for them to have families and raise their children?

How well are American schools teaching science?

Stuart Schneiderman links to this post.

Excerpt:

The results are in and America’s elementary, middle and high school students are stumped by science.

The National Center for Education Statistics released the findings of their National Assessment of Educational Progress science exam this week and it doesn’t bode well for the state of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education. While the majority of students at the fourth, eighth and twelfth grade levels could successfully complete straightforward hands-on or computer-based tasks and arrive at the correct conclusions, once additional variables or more complex calculations were introduced, their performance declined dramatically.

For example, 75% of high school seniors could successfully use test strips to test water samples for the levels of four pollutants, record the data and interpret whether the results exceeded EPA standards, but only 25% of students were able to design and conduct an investigation using a simulated calorimeter and related patterns in temperature changes in two different metals to determine which metal has the higher specific heat capacity. Results were the same at the lower grade levels, where only 24% and 35% of eighth and fourth graders respectively were able to handle the more difficult experiments. Students also had difficulty in explaining how they arrived at a correct conclusion, with only 27% of twelfth graders able to both select a correct answer and explain why they did so in one section of the test. And in another section, only 11% were able to make a final recommendation that was supported by the data they had worked with in the experiment.

[…]Currently, only about a third of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the US are in the STEM fields – by contrast, over half of Chinese and Japanese college students are specializing in STEM subjects. The economic and career benefits of STEM education are well-documented. STEM occupations are forecasted to grow faster than non-STEM occupations through to 2020. Over the course of the recession, unemployment in STEM fields has been almost half that of non-STEM fields. And STEM professionals earn, on average, approximately 26% more than non-STEM counterparts.

[…]If there’s a bright spot in the NAEP report, it’s the fact that female students are matching or exceeding the performance of their male peers in both hands-on and interactive tasks.

I always encourage Christians to go into STEM fields, especially men who have a Biblical mandate to provide for their families, if they have one. Women can be more flexible in what they study. Men are obligated to go for the bucks.

Regarding that comment in bold that I highlighted, Stuart writes:

Schools are not teaching advanced scientific problem-solving and reasoning, but they have achieved gender parity.

Is this an accidental correlation or is the connection causal?

It is certainly possible that educators have chosen gender parity over scientific excellence. If so, then that would help to explain their failure.

Educators may have chosen to close the gender gap at the expense of boys. They may have devalued certain types of reasoning because girls do not do as well on them. They may have changed the content of experiments to make science a more girl-friendly field?

We know that when boys believe that a field is identified as more feminine, they turn off and go back to their video games.

We know that teachers of the humanities and social sciences now actively discriminates against boys.

Is the same thing true of science?

If you read through the Department of Education report you will observe that the tests mostly involve girl-friendly and environmentally correct topics. They ask how sun-loving plants grow, how to test for pollution, and, how heat is conducted in frying pans.

Do you believe that ten or twelve year old boys will crank it up to study how to cook an omelet?

Sometimes the questions are directed at more boy friendly topics like electronic circuits and magnetic fields but they do not teach about cars, guns, and boats. They do not address questions about mining, agribusiness and construction.

Does it matter? I suspect that it does.

I think some combination of homeschooling and private schools is required if you expect your children to make a difference in the world. Young men especially will benefit from being taken out of the feminized public schools. That’s something I think about when dating and courting – picking the future teacher of my children.

Regardless, all Christians should be advocates for school choice. We shouldn’t be paying for a failed, politicized public school system. Give every parent a voucher and let the public schools compete for funding by pleasing customers – like every other business has to.

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.