Archive for March, 2019

If your kids are college bound…

March 29, 2019

Here’s a site that you must check out.
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In a prior post, we questioned: “Are colleges watering down their curriculums?” … and reported on  a survey conducted by American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

The ACTA criteria and methodology  specifically  assesses whether students are learning the “essential skills and knowledge” for work and for life.

The results: Only 2% of the surveyed schools earned an A grade from ACTA.

For details, see “Have colleges watered down their curriculums?”

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The overall statistics are interesting (and disappointing), but what’s more meaningful is how specific schools are doing.

Here’s how to find out…

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More: Have colleges watered down their curriculums?

March 28, 2019

A survey of 700 schools answers the question.
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In a prior post, we outlined the criteria and method that the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) used to assess whether students are learning the “essential skills and knowledge” for work and for life.

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In a nutshell, ACTA researchers culled through over 700 schools’ course catalogs and web sites to determine what courses were being offered and, more important, which courses were required of all students.

Specifically, they investigated whether undergraduates are gaining a reasonable college-level introduction in seven core subject areas:

  1. Composition & argumentation
  2. Literature and critical thinking
  3. Foreign language & culture
  4. U.S. government & history
  5. Economics: Macro, micro, behavioral
  6. Mathematics, logic & computer science
  7. Science & scientific experimentation.

Here’s what they found …

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Have colleges watered down their curriculums?

March 27, 2019

A survey seeks to  answer that question.
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In a prior  post, we reported that employers think that most college graduates are poorly prepared for the work force in such areas as critical thinking, communication and problem solving.

See A bigger college scandal than the recent admissions bruhaha…

Let’s dig a little deeper on that sentiment.

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The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) conducted a survey of “Core Requirements at our Nation’s Colleges and Universities” to determine what students are really learning in college.

Specifically, the ACTA survey focused on the courses that a student is required to take outside the major.

These courses — commonly called general education classes or the school’s core curriculum — are, according to the ACTA, “ the foundation of a school’s academic program”.

They are the courses “generally  designed to equip students with essential skills and knowledge” for work and for life.

Here is specifically what ACTA was looking for…

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A bigger college scandal than the recent admissions bruhaha…

March 26, 2019

Employers say that 9 of 10 college grads are poorly prepared.
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According to the WSJ

9 out of 10 business owners surveyed by the American Association Colleges and Universities said that recent college graduates as poorly prepared for the work force in such areas as critical thinking, communication and problem solving.

“Employers are say that they don’t care about all the knowledge you learned because it’s going to be out of date two minutes after you graduate … they care about whether you can continue to learn over time and solve complex problems.”

 

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Are employers being too critical?

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College admissions scandal: Much ado about nothing?

March 25, 2019

Maybe so, but it shines a spotlight on other college problems.
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It was easy to get caught up in the recent college admissions fiasco.

It had all the ingredients of popular scandal: rich celebrity stars and industry titans, elite colleges, outrageous (and illegal) adult behavior, sports abuses, social injustice.  All constantly re-fueled by continuous cable news looping.

Today, let’s step back and put the bruhaha into perspective.

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Nicholas Lemann – of Columbia’s School of Journalism – cut to the chase in the New Yorker:

Busting the admissions cheaters is the right thing to do, in addition to being emotionally satisfying.

But it won’t change America’s colleges much for the better.

Let’s drill down on that…

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NYT: “A vindication of the rule of law.”

March 23, 2019

“It may be that Mr. Trump has kept repeating his mantra of ‘no collusion’ because it’s true.”
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That’s a conclusion the the NYT editorial staff reached.

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But that conclusion was apparently tough for the Times to swallow, so the editors pulled a Comey in their editorial.

Remember when Comey said: “Here’s a list of all the laws and policies that Secretary Clinton violated, but no reasonable prosecutor would indict her”?

Well, the Times – apparently still grateful for the memo that Comey leaked to them to get the special counsel rolling – styled their editorial after his Clinton ruling.

After the obligatory reaffirmation of Robert Mueller as “a man whose name is synonymous with integrity and fairness”, the Times reheated all of allegations about collusion and obstruction that Mueller decided didn’t merit indictment.

The Times conceded (I think) that the investigation was ‘by the book’ and fair.

But, unlike the Clinton-Comey affair,  when the glee-dancing Times said that was time to turn the page, this time – since Trump is center stage – they declare:

William Barr, the attorney general, needs to release as much of Mr. Mueller’s work as he possibly can, and soon.

All Americans deserve the chance to review those findings and reach their own conclusions.

Whatever happened to “turn the page”?

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Are SAT scores income-biased?

March 22, 2019

The simple answer is ‘yes’, but it’s more complicated than that.
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I stumbled upon an interesting analysis…

According to Daniel Friedman  posting on Quillette.com:

There is a statistically significant relationship between family income and SAT scores.

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Let’s drill down on the numbers…

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Some “interesting” SAT results …

March 21, 2019

Since SAT scores  are in the news, here’s some perspective.
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The College Board publishes a “Total Group Profile Report” for  college-bound seniors.

Browsing it, a couple of sets of numbers caught my eye ….

Let’s start with math scores.

Two big takeaways:

(1) The gap between boys and girls narrowed from the 40 point difference in the 1970s to about 25 points … but has remained fairly constant at that level for about the past 20 years

(2) Scores for both boys and girls have been falling for the past dozen years or so.

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OK, boys outscore girls in math, but girls do better on the verbal part of the SATs, right?

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How to get your kids into good colleges … without cheating or bribing.

March 20, 2019

There’s a sure-fire method, but it isn’t easy.  It’s called parenting.

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Last week – in the wake of the college admissions scandal –  we posted about how Asian-American students are being admitted to highly selective (aka. ” elite”) high schools at increasingly high rates.

Why?

Because they are academic achievers.

Why?

In part because Asian-American parents place a high priority on education, drive their children to excel (especially in STEM academics) and provide their kids with extensive  extracurricular learning experiences (well beyond SAT prep classes).

And, oh yeah, they’ve probably gone to college … providing good role modeling and ready tutoring capabilities.

To that point …

The College Board published a  “Total Group Profile Report” for recent college-bound seniors …

One set of numbers caught my eye:

SAT scores by the student’s parents level of educational attainment.

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Note that about 2/3’s of the college-bound seniors taking the SAT came from homes with a degreed parent – either associate, bachelor or graduate.

Only about 1/3 came from homes with parents having only a high school education or less.

And, the performance differentials are substantial between the groups …

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Are “the meritorious” a protected class?

March 19, 2019

In a prior post, I opined  that an applicant to an elite college is “qualified” to attend that college if they have sufficient smarts and dedication to learning that it is reasonable to expect that they can successfully complete the coursework that’s required to earn a degree.

See Just how dumb are Lori Loughlin’s daughters?

If you buy that definition, then many (maybe most) of rejected applicants are qualified … but get rejected because there aren’t enough slots to accommodate all of them.

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Which raises another question: is there certainty that the most qualified students get offered admission?

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Just how dumb are Lori Loughlin’s daughters?

March 18, 2019

Or, the more pertinent question: Are Lori’s daughters “qualified” to attend USC?
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I hate to pick on Lori Loughlin’s daughters (<=not really) but, in the recent college admissions scandal, they’re the only  kids who have been outted (in detail) by the media … and, let’s be honest, they are easy targets.

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Evidence re: smart or dumb is scant – i.e. IQ or legit SAT scores haven’t been reported – but there are a couple of data points:

  1. The video loops on cable news are less than flattering (e.g. “I’m looking forward to the football games and parties” — not “the high level of intellectual challenge”);
  2. Lori’s stating that “I didn’t push my daughters to get A’s in high school” — suggests that they met their mom’s low bar and didn’t get many A’s;
  3. it took a whopping $500,000 to open USC’s “side door” for the girls — that suggests that the girls had a lot ground to make up.
  4. Lori shelled out the $500,000 (and allegedly committed a couple of felonies in the process) …that’s pretty dumb … and, at least some of everybody’s “smarts” comes via their parents DNA.

So, it seems reasonable to conclude that the girls aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer.

Does that mean that they aren’t “qualified” to attend USC?  

That’s a trickier question…

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Why are Asian-American students dominating “elite” schools?

March 15, 2019

No, they don’t buy-off sports coaches and abuse standardized testing procedures. 
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Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (“TJ” for short), is a selective DC-area magnet school designed to provide an elite, high-tech education for the most academically gifted students in Northern Virginia.

The school offers rigorous study in advanced college-level offerings like electrodynamics, neurobiology, and artificial intelligence.

High octane academics, for sure … offered to the best and brightest.

What’s the rub?

Demographic mix.

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The school’s newly accepted Class of 2022 is 65 percent Asian, 23 percent white, five percent Hispanic, and two percent black.

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20 years ago, the concern was that Black and Hispanic representation at TJ was less than half their demographic mix in Fairfax County – the “feeder” county.

Several initiatives were launched to increase Black and Hispanic representation, including early identification and proactive outreach to high potential minority children; supplementary in-school and extracurricular programs to teach and mentor them; and more ready access to prep and gateway courses such as Algebra.

While undertaking those initiatives, something unexpected happened.

The numbers of Black and Hispanic students applying and enrolled at TJ remained stalled at the pre-initiative levels. So, that’s still a concern.

But, during the same time period (and unrelated to the minority initiatives), the number of white students declined sharply … and the number of Asian-American students has soared.

Why is that?

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Before climate change, there was the “Population Bomb”.

March 14, 2019

And, there are remarkable similarities.
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Recently, in one of her articulated streams of consciousness, AOC warned that we all would be toast in 12 years if global warming wasn’t arrested.

Time to metal-cube our SUVs and mass-slaughter the bovine-methane creatures, right?

Well, not so fast.

While AOC’s warning may come to fruition, I’m betting the over on the 12 years … in part, because it fits a pattern of hysterical unrealized doomsday predictions.

For example, circa. 1970, Prof. Paul Ehrlich  (Stanford University) wrote Malthusian-inspired book: The Population Bomb. The book became a runaway “scientific” best-seller.

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Smithonian.com

Ehrlich warned that because of unchecked population growth:

The battle to feed all of humanity is over.

Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death.

All of us will face mass starvation on a dying planet.

While their were some deniers, demographers agreed almost unanimously with Ehrlich’s doomsday prediction ….

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#3 – Why I’m lukewarm to climate change…

March 13, 2019

Reason #3: The “97% of scientists” baloney

For the record: I’m neither a denier nor a zealot …  so, according to British writer (& phrase-coiner) Matt Ridley, I’m a “lukewarmer”.

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Since AOC rolled out her Green New Deal, I’ve heard many left-leaning pundits spouting the oft-repeated but unsupported claim that 97% of scientists agree that climate change (nee, ‘global warming’) is real, man-caused and catastrophic.

Reason enough to flashback to our long ago post debunking the 97% malarkey.

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In a prior posts, I covered:

Reason #1Unsettling Science … I’ve gotten  cognitive whiplash from “Ice Age” u-turning to  “Global Warming”  …  which was slowed by an “18-year Pause” … and then wrapped in a catch-all “Climate Change”.

Reason #2Al Gore and his doomsday prediction …  in 2016 we passed his point of no return towards a true planetary emergency  … without the planet melting or exploding … and with Manhattan still above water (I think).

Let’s move on…

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My 3rd reason: The “97% of scientists” baloney.

This claim really gained traction when former President Obama tweeted:

“97% percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.”

Case closed, settled science, right?

Not so fast …

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Let’s start with a simple smell test:

Can you think of any issue that garners 97% agreement?

My bet is that 97%% of “scientists” don’t even agree that smoking causes cancer.

Pick your issue … 97% … really?

Doesn’t smell right to me, but maybe climate change the exception to the rule.

So, let’s deep dive the claim…

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The politics of the Supreme Court…

March 12, 2019

Conservatives are fretting (rightfully) that Roberts is trending liberal. 
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Let’s put SCOTUS political leanings in context….

Political scientists Andrew Martin and Kevin Quinn developed  a measure to calibrate how liberal or conservative SCOTUS justices are … based on their rulings.

As near as I can tell, the measure is uncontested by either ideology.

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First, let’s pull some takeaways from the chart…

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OMG: One of Dem’s loose cannons unloads on Obama…

March 11, 2019

Congresswoman Omar: “Hope and change was just a mirage”
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Frosh Congresswoman ilhan Omer set off an anti-Israel, anti-Semite bruhaha last week.

That was broadly covered by the MSM.

But, the MSM has largely ignored the Congresswoman’s interview with left-leaning Politico.

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In the lPolitico: interview Omar is quoted as saying:

We can’t be only upset with Trump.

His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies.

They just were more polished than he is.

Who was she talking about?

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Bridge champ busted for doping … say, what?

March 8, 2019

More evidence that the world is continuing to get wackier and wackier…

Flashback: Last year, during the the 2018 Olympics, a  husband & wife mixed doubles curling team from  Russia was stripped of their bronze medals when he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.

You read that right: In the brute of all brute sports … CURLING!

For details. see our prior post Russia’s very bad week continues …

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The draconian action by the Olympic Committee struck me as a bit puritanical overkill.

But, it may have been outdone by the the World Bridge Federation…

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Border Chief: “System is at breaking point.”

March 7, 2019

Dems say that illegal crossings have declined in the past couple of years, evidence that that there is no crisis … and certainly no national emergency.

That narrative seems to have hit a bump in the road.

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Let’s drill down on the numbers…

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The (personal) economics of Medicare premiums

March 6, 2019

After paying Medicare taxes for years, weren’t the benefits supposed to be free?
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Yesterday, we argued that Medicare’s payroll taxes can thought of as prepaid premiums … that amortize to the equivalent of $10,000 per year over a retiree’s post-65 life span.

See Ouch: The (personal) economics of Medicare payroll taxes

And, we pointed out that the prepaid premiums are just the tip of the iceberg.

Once retired, the Feds collects additional annual Medicare premiums.

This may surprise pre-retirement folks who think that they pay in during their working years, but then get “free” healthcare insurance when they retire.

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Today, let’s take a look at Medicare premiums…

 

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Ouch: The (personal) economics of Medicare.

March 5, 2019

Over the years, I’ve anteed about $250,000 into the Medicare tax kitty.

And, you may have  thrown in more than you think!
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Motivated by Medicare for All hype coming from far-left-leaning Dems presidential candidates, I finally took a serious look at the buckos that I’ve thrown into the Medicare kitty over the years.

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I’d like to say that I was surprised, but I really wasn’t.

Here are the details…

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Trump may be wrong about the U.S. going socialist…

March 4, 2019

… AOC may be holding the matches, but the GOP tax reform provided the kindling. 

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Last week, I whined that – though I’m getting a tax refund this year – my income taxes went up in 2018.

I’m ok with that since I conclude that the corporate cuts turbo-charged the economy and the stock market … and my IRA account gains are much larger than my additional taxes.

But, I do have a mega-concern that I started touting way back in 2017 when the GOP tax reform was being crafted, debated and passed.

My mega-concern is the long-run tilt in voting dynamics, in the new age of the Green Dream, Medicare for All and Guaranteed Minimum Income (for those who are unable or unwilling to work).

Let’s start with a flashback…

Remember Mitt Romneys ill-timed observation about “47% of Americans”.

No, they weren’t Hillary’s “deplorables”, they were simply the folks who pay no Federal income taxes.

Well if the GOP tax plan got enacted … the 47% is still alive .. and now on steroids..

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Let’s drill down on the data…

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“Half of all U.S. colleges to close or go bankrupt in the next decade”

March 1, 2019

That’s the gloomy prediction of disruption guru Clayton Christensen
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And, it’s not just the tidal wave of online programs or ballooning college tuitions.

Moreso, Christensen’s prediction is on track, according to a WSJ recap of economist Nathan Grawe’s “Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education.”

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Grawe’s central thesis: Birthrates have plunged 13% since the Great Recession … and that “birth dearth” will cost America 450,000 fewer college applicants in the 2020s.

Here are some of the specifics….

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