Minnesota Network for Progressive Action

About Comments
The mnpACT! blog welcomes all comments from visitors, which are immediately posted, but we also filter for spammers:
  • No active URLs or web links are allowed (use www.yourweb.com).
  • No drug or pharma- ceutical names are allowed.
  • Your comment "Name" must be one word with no spaces and cannot be an email address.
You should also note that a few IP addresses and homepage URLs have been banned from posting comments because they have posted multiple spam messages.

Please be aware we monitor ALL comments and reserve the right to delete obvious spam comments.

Politics Blogs - Blog Top Sites

Listed on BlogShares

site search

Site Meter
  Progressive Political Blog

Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Q Comp Still Gets an F

Category: Education
Posted: 02/10/09 06:14

by Dave Mindeman

Education Commissioner Alice Seagren works for Governor Pawlenty and therefore Q-Comp simply has to be one of her favorite programs.

In her February 8th commentary in the Star Tribune, she launches into her defense of the program.

Keep in mind that this comes on the heels of one independent study (requested by her own Dept. of Education), a legislative auditor's report, and a Star Tribune investigation of Q-Comp performance so far.

All three of those reports gave less than stellar marks of the Governor's signature education program.

Ms. Seagren titles her opinion.. Student Win With Q-Comp. Which begs the question...How do you know?

The commentary says this;

An indication we are on the right track came from independent research that found "there is a significant and positive relationship between the number of years a school has been implementing Q Comp and student achievement."

Is there a distinct correlation? No. Is there statistical confirmation? No. Is there overwhelming evidence? No. But there is a "significant and positive relationship".

I'm underwhelmed.

But she continues....

Q Comp is more than just a pay for performance program. It also aims to improve student performance by improving teacher training and professional development.

It "aims" to do many things, but where is the proof? Where is the cost benefit? Administrators may like it because it allows them to require more hoops for teachers to jump through -- but teachers aren't convinced. They already know how to teach.... but they often lack the resources in the classroom to improve the necessary environment for learning.

Q Comp seems to want to correlate student achievement directly to teacher competency.

Q Comp is a significant change from a longstanding, and outdated, system of teacher training and compensation.

Let's cut to the chase. Q Comp is the Pawlenty administration's proverbial "bone" to throw at education. Students will increase achievement when class sizes are reduced..... when buildings and technology are updated.... when special education is fully funded... when testing measures ability to learn and not ability to memorize.

Teachers should be properly compensated and in some ways Q Comp is probably getting raises to some very deserving teachers. But to promote this program as some panacea for a lack of investment in our schools--- well, the administration gets a big red F on that one.
comments (1) permalink

Sorry Westover...I'm Still Not Convinced About Stimulus

Category: Economy
Posted: 02/09/09 17:46, Edited: 02/09/09 17:46

by Dave Mindeman

A post I made regarding a Craig Westover opinion item in the Pioneer Press elicited a response at the Minnesota Free Market Institute website.

My, my...we seem to have irritated a nerve.

If he doesn't mind too much, I'd like to extend this discussion a bit because I have some questions.

But first there are some things I want to corrrect and some things that I question the validity of.

First, Mr. Westover seems to be quoting Henry Hazlitt as if the quotes stated are irrefutable. Mr. Hazlitt was a libertarian philospher who completely rejected Keynesian economic ideas.

Hazlitt is entitled to question that economic theory and Mr. Westover is certainly entitled to embrace his philosphies but to assume that those ideas are accepted mainstream is...well, questionable.

Just guessing, but libertarian philosophy seems to be a minority viewpoint in both the Republican and Democratic parties. Not that the philosophy doesn't have relevance, but to quote it as if it is accepted theory is stretching the premise.

Second, although I used some defense contractors as an example of government "wealth" creation.... that, by no means, should be concluded as some kind of endorsement of that process. This type of corporation is just a prime example of Fortune 500 status being attained via the government. I would most assuredly have preferred that all of the government contracts that created the financial well being of these defense giants have gone to solar, wind, and other green companies that would have reduced our dependence on foreign oil rather than contributing to the wealthy retirement of Dick Cheney.

Now, Mr. Westover goes on, at length, about soldiers and defense contractors as a "poor" example of government created jobs, since the government is solely responsible for national defense. He ignored all the other positions that I listed....

Air Traffic Controllers....Food Inspectors....Park Service....Forest Rangers....Law Enforcement....Soldiers....Disease Research and Control...Regulators....Public Health...etc.,etc.

Conservatives like to fixate on one word.

But, there is another curious conclusion in Westover's critique:

Mr. Mindeman makes the classic error behind the "Broken Window Theory," which assumes that when a window is broken that is a good thing because it creates a job for a glazier that otherwise would not exist. The glazier at work is what is seen. What is not seen is the job that is lost because the owner of the broken window must replace his window rather than buy something he wants. In aggregate, society is poorer by the value of one window, not richer by the money paid to the glazier.

Are we making some kind of assumption that society, as a whole, has limited resources? That because a window is broken, it can't just be fixed while purchasing what he wants at the same time? Are we to assume that their is some kind of economic balance sheet with finite resources in which every single transaction takes away from something else?

If that is the case, then trickle down economics is the worst of all possible scenarios, because invariably we will run out of resources before we get to the bottom of the economic ladder.

Westover says we need to look at the secondary effects of government spending....maybe, but where he sees losses in secondary effects, I see positives.

When a bridge is built, we have something tangible. We have an improved transportation conduit. We hopefully have updated and improved transportation. All of which contributes to more efficient commutes to work and transportation of goods. That is a positive on economic growth and stimulus in the truest sense of the word.

Mr. Westover and I will never agree on how government can affect the economy....and I am sure "Professor" Westover has fodder for numerous lectures to come.

But like it or not...for better or worse.... the government is intricately locked into economic causes and effects. And we are at a crucial crossroads where only government can bring us back from the brink.
comments (0) permalink

Is It Fear? or Just Being Honest With the American People?

Category: Economy
Posted: 02/09/09 12:35, Edited: 02/09/09 12:38

by Dave Mindeman

The conservative voices that oppose the stimulus plan have all sorts of reasons for why it won't work. And their solution is the same one that has been the Bush administration policy from its very beginning -- tax cuts.

But Ed Morrissey at Hot Air gives us another complication.....Democratic honesty.

Why has this recession generated such bad job opening rates? Isidore quotes Robert Brusca of FAO Economics as saying that ?fear is running the show right now,? and small wonder. Instead of trying to calm the nation, Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi have transformed themselves into Chicken Littles, abandoning FDR?s ?All we have to fear is fear itself? in favor of ?We?re all going to DIE!? Why? Their stimulus package keeps losing support, and only fear can propel it to passage, but that same hysteria has employers locking their doors, which creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of economic doom.

Essentially, Morrissey is saying that businesses have quit hiring because the Democrat's are simply stating publicly what business already knows....the economic situation is bad.

And yet, when business is asked about the stimulus, the answer is "we support it".....as noted in this article from The Hill:

Business groups believe injecting funds into rebuilding America?s roads and highways could put thousands back to work at a time of rising unemployment. As a result, lobbyists from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) are asking lawmakers and Obama?s transition team to funnel federal funds to ?shovel-ready? projects as the best way to stimulate the flagging economy.

Does that sound hysterical to you?

Yet, the tax cut mantra continues from Morrissey:

The proper salve for a lack of job creation would be an infusion of capital into the markets. The failure of businesses normally creates openings for small start-ups to take their place, or for innovators to find new solutions to new problems and bring them to market. The Obama administration should encourage capital to come to market by lowering the risk cost through cuts in the capital-gains tax rates, or eliminating them entirely, for the next four years.

Two things. First, the TARP was a direct infusion of capital into the markets through the banking system. It never got out of the banking system. Second, capital gains tax elimination would be good for investors in companies that are already established and publicly traded, but how would that help increase start-ups? New business start ups need loans...they need credit. And loosening the credit markets requires economic activity that is visible and viable.

The current stimulus plan is already polluted with 40% tax cuts. How much more dilution can this plan accept and still work?

But then maybe "not working" is the point with the conservatives?

comments (0) permalink


« March 2018 »
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31

Latest posts


(one year)




RSS Feeds

RSS 0.91
RSS 2.0

Powered by
Powered by SBlog
Copyright © Minnesota Network for Progressive Action. All rights reserved. Legal. Privacy Policy. Sitemap.