Bill and Melinda Gates are using their foundation to improve education results. It seems, that much of our education deficiencies can be traced to method and not using charter school proven techniques in our public schools. The Gates hold this position among their other ideas.
This morning we learned the President wants to extend the length of the school day to bring us up with some of the rest of the world. Education Secretary, Arne Duncan describes this as leveling the playing field. He further says our school day is based on an agrarian economy, and we are no longer farm people. Really! Since when? Well, since 1925. America moved from the farms to the towns and villages in 1925 and forward. Are you telling me, Mr. Duncan, that the shorter school day and week, is why we got so behind much of the advanced world in 2009? Since we left an agrarian society much earlier why didn’t these poor results show up in 1935 or 1955 or 1975?
The problem of education competitiveness is complex and not given to simple, sound-good solutions. To reach America’s education achievement problem everything must be on the table. Divorce, as an example, is off the table. It cannot be discussed.
Children from divorced parents are twice as likely to repeat a grade as other children. Young children from divorce are less imaginative, more dependent, unaffectionate, disobedient than children from intact families. But, we can’t talk about this subject because it is too sensitive.
Try to imagine the President, in his bully pulpit, or any other politician for that matter telling us that our high divorce rate must be lowered for the sake of our children.
The politicians could say we are going to make it a goal this year to have a divorce rate as low as the United Kingdom, or even Germany. In 2020, we will have a goal to be as low as even Switzerland. And, in the year of 2050 we will be as low as Brazil. But, one day, through our grit and competitiveness our divorce rate will be as low as Italy’s. Such ambitious goals will surely get frowns from the many offended, but it is the kind of optimism that will show up in the classroom.
The Administration and maybe the President seem perplexed and disconcerted over the fact that after a health care speaking blitz, extolling the obvious virtues of reform, that it does not produce firm and lasting converts. In fact, less people trust the Administration-outlined health care plan then at the beginning of the reform campaign. Among other objections people express concerns about the costs and how the ultimate tax bill will affect their living standards. Despite the obvious broken system, that must be repaired, people disdain a consummate government solution even more.
The American people don’t seem to believe once the government absorbs any private sector it ever lets go. Many are fearful that any health care reform that the Congress will pass will have the architecture in place to fill any gaps. Filling the gaps will,in time, produce total government health care. Any bill could be just a “buy in”.
These doubtful Americans, many of them, lived through the Reagan years and both Bush’s without seeing any significant reduction in the size or proportion of the Federal Government. In those years Americans listened to steady rhetoric about the evils of a monolithic government, but it was mostly talk. Why shouldn’t the American public be skeptical, now that we have an Administration and majority in both branches of Congress that have no such hostility to a large and aggressive government?
You don’t hear the President talking down the active role of the government. By all measurements he believes in government solutions and government management. Likewise, much, and near the majority of Congress feel the same way. These Congressmen seem to harbor none of the fears of government that the conservatives might.
It is the Federal Government role that is the central division. Not only in health care, but in many other matters as well. This difference cannot be denied.
Despite all the sweet talk and speech-craft, the opponents to the proposed reforms remain unmoved for the most part. This is because of the expressed convictions of the President and a vast record in both the Illinois legislature and the U.S. Senate. We should rely on his proclamations, facts, as well as votes cast in his career. I call this the Obama Standard.
The Obama Standard was established in the confirmation vote for Supreme Court Justice John Roberts. Of course, Roberts was eminently qualified, as Senator Obama acknowledged, and was confirmed by a healthy majority. However, he did not receive Senator Obama’svote. Actually, Justice Roberts had a sit down interview with Sen. Obama. During the interview Sen. Obama said Roberts gave all the right answers. Roberts verbally concurred with Obama’s concerns. But, in the end Obama explained; ” I ultimately have to give more weight to his deeds and the overarching political philosophy that he appears to have showed with those in power than to the assuring words that he provided me in our meeting”.
When Americans refuse to buy the health care reform espoused by the President they are applying th Obama Standard. A standard that the President should understand and respect.
Often, there is a delay before the results of foreign policy decisions arrive.
The decision not to install the anti-missile system in Poland and the radar installation in the Czech Republic is no surprise. The Russians have opposed this from the beginning. We always told them the defense system was there to defend Europe from the rogue nuclear state of Iran. The Russians did not buy.
Less noticed, the failure to deploy leaves our eastern seaboard vulnerable. Vulnerable to the degree that this system would successfully intercept a hostile incoming missile.
Our trusted ally, the Poles, are not worried so much about Iran. They see the Russians as the threat to their security. The Poles have a 70 year old memory of the Russian invasion as well as the reminder of Georgia in 2008.
President Reagan wisely embraced the strategic missile defense at a critical time. Critical, because a prominent mind-set among many policy-thinkers was to ridicule the concept and they were gaining momentum. The opponents to strategic defense alleged that missile defense was unworkable because it was not dependable technologically and therefore premature. The critics considered the defense shield a political tool. More accurately, the test results of the missile system have been successful for the most part.
Many of these opponents are old adherents to the obsolete and irrational MAD doctrine. A doctrine that made little sense in a bipolar nuclear world and none in a multi-polar nuclear world.
The administration, is packaging the reversal of policy of the European shield to a defense policy update. Few, I suppose accept that explanation. The Poles and Czech’s are suspicious for sure. Some Czech’s are calling the President a coward.
We are more likely dropping the defense shield in deference to the Russians. We would like the Russians to help us in other strategic areas. We will see.
The whole mind-set of a softer, more accommodating world that deserves a higher level of understanding has high risks.
Time will tell.
The speeches still have a campaign tenor to them. That makes people suspicious, especially now that health care reform has been aroused. The campaign ethos tells you to be upbeat and “positive”, but the governing ethos demands honesty and forthrightness. Health care interest has produced good public information. When the numbers don’t add up the campaign-style rhetoric is all a waste.
Example: the President pledges a deficit-neutral bill. Yet, the Congressional Budget Office says you have to throw the House bill (HR3200) in the creek. You can’t find enough savings in HR3200 to make the numbers work.
Maybe, the Administration should just say that and not just other people like me. Just substitute some straight talk for platitudes. Then, maybe we could restore some credibility to the debate, and finally proceed.
Our medical care is patchwork that has gaps in it. People talk about 47 million that do not have medical insurance. I hope most people understand that is an inflated number. Yet, there are too many who cannot afford health insurance.
We hear less about the 700,000 bankruptcies each year as a result of medical expenses. Medical expenses are the major cause of 62% of all bankruptcies. 78% of those people have health insurance. Something bad wrong there. The social safety net has missed them.
So many people are being enriched by our medical system you have to be concerned about the veracity of the opposition to any reform. Insurance and pharmaceuticals are pouring money into the debate at new levels.
Business Week reports that in some states two insurance companies share 80% of the business. That is a monopoly worth fighting for!