Tuesday Open Thread [2.28.12]

Filed in Open Thread by on February 28, 2012

Remember to vote today in Red Clay.

And unintended consequence of the GOP’s inflammatory rhetoric on the stimulus:

“[T]he stimulus was one of the largest single tax cuts in U.S. history. To say the stimulus failed is to make the argument that tax cuts do not stimulate the economy. Ninety-five percent of all Americans got a tax cut under the plan. … The next time a Republican brags about his or her opposition to the failed stimulus, a cynic might respond by asking why they hate tax cuts so much.”

Fortunately for the GOP, the stimulus worked, and thus the entirety of Republican economic policy (i.e. everything can be solved by tax cuts) is saved for the time being. What is not saved is the GOP’s chances in November, because of more of such inflammatory rhetoric from Rick Santorum:

“At first Santorum’s moral doom-saying just sounds like a slightly wacky play to the extreme wing of the GOP… But eventually it becomes clear that Santorum believes America’s lax morals are leading to that kind of future. First you teach teenagers about contraception; the next thing you know you are voting in favor of warehouses of fetuses, grown for the benefit of mankind… On paper, Santorum might be a viable alternative to Romney. In a series of difficult Senate terms, Santorum was more successful than most in reaching across the aisle even as he rose in the GOP hierarchy. But Santorum sees a looming moral apocalypse, abetted by what are now mainstream positions in America. That’s not a message that’s going to win[.]”

REPUBLICAN PRIMARY — PRESIDENT — Santorum looks good in Ohio and Tennessee, which have contests next week, on March 6.

NATIONAL (Gallup daily tracking): Romney 32, Santorum 28, Gingrich 14, Paul 12
NATIONAL (Politico/GWU Battleground): Santorum 36, Romney 34, Gingrich 13, Paul 7
OHIO (Quinnipiac): Santorum 36, Romney 29, Gingrich 17, Paul 11
TENNESSEE (Vanderbilt University): Santorum 33, Romney 17, Paul 13 and Gingrich 10.
SOUTH DAKOTA (Nielson Brothers): Romney 33, Santorum 24, Gingrich 9, Paul 9
VERMONT (Castleton State College): Romney 34, Santorum 27, Paul 14, Gingrich 10
GEORGIA (SurveyUSA): Gingrich 39, Santorum 24, Romney 23 Paul 9.

GENERAL ELECTION — PRESIDENT — The President is cruising.

NATIONAL (Politico/George Washington University Battleground Poll): Obama d. Romney (53-43), Obama d. Santorum (53-42). President Obama also has a 53% approval rating.
NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Romney d. Obama (45-43); Paul d. Obama (43-41); Obama d. Santorum (45-43); Obama d. Gingrich (49-39)
PENNSYLVANIA (Muhlenberg College): Obama d. Santorum (49-41); Obama d. Romney (48-37)
SOUTH DAKOTA (Nielson Brothers): Santorum d. Obama (45-33); Romney d. Obama (48-39)
TENNESSEE (Vanderbilt University): Santorum d. Obama (42-38); Romney d. Obama (42-39); Paul d. Obama (40-39); Obama d. Gingrich (41-38)
VERMONT (Castleton State College): Obama d. Romney (58-33); Obama d. Santorum (60-31); Obama d. Paul (60-30); Obama d. Gingrich (65-24)

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  1. PBaumbach says:

    In recent days Pandora and others have written about the negative consequences that charter schools can have on true public schools.

    There is a petition available if you oppose granting the Newark Charter School an expansion as a high school within Christina School District, due to the resulting harm to the truly public high schools in the district.

    A post I received about the petition reads:

    Some of you are aware that Newark Charter School is intending to create a High School off of Elkton Rd. Their exclusionary and discriminatory practices they have employed in the lower grades will be continued into high school. I am opposed to it on many grounds, but primarily, I stand committed to fighting for equality in education.

    I encourage you to visit the website http://www.communities4educationde.org/ and sign the petition. Please pass this along to as many people as possible. The proposal will go up for a vote on March 7th. There is strong support for the school. If you are opposed, your voice needs to be heard.

  2. Geezer says:

    “I stand committed to fighting for equality in education.”

    By definition, equality excludes excellence. Statements like the one above are what conservatives use to argue that progressives want equal outcomes, not equal opportunities.

  3. AQC says:

    I voted at Marbrook and was pleasantly surprised to see how many people were there!

  4. mediawatch says:

    Progressives should want more than equal opportunities. They should want better outcomes.

    And better outcomes for public schools is one of the promises of the charter movement. Unfortunately, in Delaware and in many other states, that promise remains unfulfilled.

    Charters are supposed to offer innovative, even experimental, approaches to learning that, when successful, can be replicated within the traditional public school setting. There are, without a doubt, several charters in Delaware that must be considered successful, but we have yet to see their methods replicated within the traditional public school system.

    Don’t blame the charters for that. Look instead at DOE and the traditional school district establishment (boards of ed, administration and teachers) and ask them why not.

    There are some things that are “wrong” with charters, things that critics have used to label them as being “exclusive,” for example, the lack of cafeteria/food service at Newark Charter, or the absence of before- and after-school care for the students. Please note, however, that charters don’t get the same capital funding as regular public schools (so there may not be money to build a cafeteria) and some of their per pupil reimbursements from the school districts is based on the previous year’s expenses, so they’ve got some financial challenges that the regular districts don’t have.

    And, while we hear talk about charters “skimming the cream” from the traditional public schools, I believe all the charters (except for Charter School of Wilmington) take applications and choose students via lottery.

    If kids are leaving the traditional public schools for charters, maybe it’s because the traditional schools aren’t doing their job as well as they should be.

    Bottom line: there’s room in Delaware’s public school system for both charters and traditional schools. The traditional schools would do well to learn from the charters’ successes and incorporate charters’ model programs into their buildings. And the General Assembly should level the financial playing field, giving charters the same resources as traditional public schools.

  5. SussexAnon says:

    Perhaps the playing field would be leveled as well if the charter schools were not allowed to dump problem students back into the public schools.

    And the application/lottery system is rather suspect. The application process quickly becomes a selection process when you eliminate students with behavior problems, etc.

    The same can be said about the Tech Schools in this state.

    I think we are seeing the reality that charter schools are just like public schools at the end of the day. Some are good and some are bad.

  6. Mike O. says:

    “By definition, equality excludes excellence. ”

    It depends on your definition of excellence. If some excel at the expense of others, then you have no gain in the excellence of your group. That may be acceptable to you, but let’s say it out loud.

    “I believe all the charters (except for Charter School of Wilmington) take applications and choose students via lottery.”

    A lottery is not a safe harbor against exclusionary practices. If you want to avoid creaming, then automatically enter every student into the lottery. Until then the lotteries ARE creaming off the motivated students/parents by self-selection. Why punish children because their parents didn’t enter the charter lottery? Where do those children end up?

  7. pandora says:

    Gotta disagree with this: And the General Assembly should level the financial playing field, giving charters the same resources as traditional public schools.

    I remember when the Charter movement began and their common theme was this: Charter Schools can do better than public schools with less money. Now people want to change the rules. If so, then one of the basic tenets of Charters was a sham – which I, and everyone with a teeny bit of educational knowledge, always knew. Because the theme of Charters schools has always been to end public education and bust teachers’ unions.

    And in order to replicate Charter programs in public schools then you’d have to allow public schools to un-invite students back, because that’s really the key with Charters.

    And what are the charters’ successes and the model Charter programs? Serious question, btw.

  8. PBaumbach says:

    Geezer, you address a quote of “I stand committed to fighting for equality in education.”

    what is the context of this quote–who said it?

  9. PBaumbach says:

    Let’s also note that at least Newark Charter has no cafeteria, and thus effectively discourages/prevents lower income families from applying, as their children would have to forgo one or two subsidized meals per school day.

  10. pandora says:

    And the idea that Charters are doing better than traditional public schools is simply not true.

    Stanford, CA – A new report issued today by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University found that there is a wide variance in the quality of the nation’s
    several thousand charter schools with, in the aggregate, students in charter schools not faring as well as students in traditional public schools.

    While the report recognized a robust national demand for more charter schools from parents and local communities, it found that 17 percent of charter schools reported academic gains that were significantly better than traditional public schools, while 37 percent of charter schools showed gains that were worse than their traditional public school counterparts, with 46 percent of charter schools demonstrating no significant difference.

    The majority of parents buying into the Charter model because it supplies a better education than public school are misguided. Now, they can prefer Charter, but they can’t make the claim that Charters are educationally better than public schools.

  11. Jason330 says:

    If this happens, prepare for a Republican freakout:

    NPR will be “fair to the truth”
    NPR’s guidelines promise an end to “he said, she said” journalism that tries to be fair to both sides of an issue. From now on, the network will ask its reporters to be fair to the truth: “In all our stories, especially matters of controversy, we strive to consider the strongest arguments we can find on all sides, seeking to deliver both nuance and clarity. Our goal is not to please those whom we report on or to produce stories that create the appearance of balance, but to seek the truth.”

    Long overdue.

  12. puck says:

    I was surprised to hear Cokie Roberts on NPR the other morning saying out loud that Santorum and the Republicans have gone too far to the right. This sounds commonsense but it is new for NPR.

  13. Coolspringer says:

    I think “supposed to” and “promises” are the key words for charters right now. There are a lot of good and well-meaning people bound up in the movement, but they don’t define it for me yet.

    For each genuinely community-spun charter and support (few) that is likely to thrive (and took 4-5 tries to break through the red tape) there seem to be half a dozen hedge-funder backed national “model” type programs designed to funnel money into the pockets of various education companies (management, technology, testing, testing security). They all sound just GREAT in their marketing materials – but they aren’t improving outcomes everywhere, and are often performing worse than traditional schools. I am not interested in seeing our school system populated with that latter form and I see them as risky for the stability of all of our communities.

    Too much smoke and mirrors and profits at stake for my taste. I agree we need to listen to the parents fleeing traditional schools, hear their valid concerns and fears. Charter promoters say they address the sluggishness and incompetence of educational bureaucracy and the limitations that places on traditional schools’ potential – so why don’t we address THAT? Why all the distraction? Why don’t we take the positive lessons of charters and make them possible in traditional schools rather than expanding charters already (whoever’s fault that may be)?

    It remains to be seen that there is room for both, especially if their oversight ends up managed as dismally as Choice has been (in Red Clay, anyway).

  14. thenewphil says:

    If Charter Schools weed out behavior problem kids, then that’s definitely where I want to send my kid. Why not let the excellent students excel? If there are bad kids, and they stay in public schools, then what’s been lost?

    We ought to judge charter schools vs other charter schools, and public schools against other public schools.

    What would be better if we didn’t have charter schools? The idiots would still be idiots and the great students would have to learn “around” them.

  15. pandora says:

    You can say you want to go to Charter schools because they don’t have to take or keep students, but if you’re basing your choice on educational superiority then the bought the PR because the research doesn’t bear out your assumptions.

    Hey… how about this. Since the Charter School of Wilmington (a Charter that has an admission’s test so they’re only taking the best), is where we set the educational (public only) bar… then which schools are they pulling* the most students from? Out of Red Clay Charter Schools? Out of Red Clay Public Schools?

    *Take Red Clay students out of the mix since they are given preference.

  16. thenewphil says:

    But why does it matter to you?

    So there’s a place the smartest well-behaved kids go to learn. What’s wrong with that?

  17. pandora says:

    Not the smartest. Do your research, Phil.

  18. Geezer says:

    “It depends on your definition of excellence. If some excel at the expense of others, then you have no gain in the excellence of your group.”

    You cannot have “group excellence.” Again, by definition, excellence depends on achieving a level of proficiency not attainable by the masses. If everyone “excels,” nobody does. Why providing the environment for the best to excel must hobble everyone else has never been explained to my satisfaction.

    “That may be acceptable to you, but let’s say it out loud.”

    Fine. I’m saying it out loud: The goal should be for every child to achieve to the maximum of his/her ability. Is the average achievement level of the group higher if the best are held back to help the slower achievers get closer to the midpoint? If so, is it fair to the high achievers to ask them to sacrifice their highest potential?

    Yes, it would be wonderful if all students could reach the midpoint — which of course would mean that it was no longer the midpoint. Are we so innumerate that we can’t grasp that not all children can be above average?

  19. Geezer says:

    “Not the smartest. Do your research, Phil.”

    I think he’s talking about CoW.

  20. PBaumbach says:

    Geezer notes “Fine. I’m saying it out loud: The goal should be for every child to achieve to the maximum of his/her ability.”

    I like this. Sign me up.

    The question for Newark Charter School (being granted permission to open a charter high school) is if public dollars go to a school that discourages lower-income students from applying, are they (the students left in the district but excluding NCS) provided sufficient resources to achieve the maximum of their ability.

    The test score results of NCS students does NOTHING to address this question.

  21. pandora says:

    How about this from my post the other day:

    You can’t mandate equal outcomes, but you can mandate equal opportunity and all of this choice/charters eliminates the possibility of equal opportunity for those without the same choices.

  22. MJ says:

    And another “moderate” Republican is run out of the party. Olympia Snowe announced she won’t run for reelection. She was facing a teabagger in the primary.

  23. pandora says:

    Add to that… I’m watching Red Clay’s referendum results. Nothing reported yet. Busy night around here! 😉

  24. Delaware Dem says:

    Puck, I have moved all your live blog comments to its own thread it was so good.

    The link is here: http://www.delawareliberal.net/2012/02/28/john-carneys-tele-town-hall/

  25. Anon says:

    Pandora, why are the polling places changing by year, and why are they not the same locations each time?


  26. pandora says:

    I had no idea that they changed! What differences are you seeing?

  27. Joanne Christian says:

    pandora–lots of folks say this around school elections; they’re confused w/ general elections when their polling place might be a firehall or something; to find out it’s a pared down polling list of mostly schools and education buildings.

  28. Delaware Dem says:

    And done. I moved the comments over. Thanks Pandora.

  29. Joanne Christian says:

    Hey–take my comment w/ you please!!!!

  30. pandora says:

    Got it, Joanne!