Saturday, September 27, 2008

Not worth the paper its written on..........

I write about a wide subject matter base on this blog (science, philosophy, politics, sports etc) but I am of the impression now that Worldoreason needs a new focus. While I will continue posting on the areas mentioned above - I have made the decision to include more items dealing with my chosen vocation: teaching. One issue that pains me in particular, as an educator, is the dumbing down of the curriculum - I posted a commentary in this regards on my sister blog worldohistory earlier this month. The article postede below is taken from USA today. It is disturbing to read but does an important question: To what extent have we sacrificed meaningful education for the paper product of a high school diploma and university entrance?

Colleges spend billions on remedial classes to prep freshmen

It's a tough lesson for millions of students just now arriving on campus: even if you have a high school diploma, you may not be ready for college.
In fact, a new study calculates, one-third of American college students have to enroll in remedial classes. The bill to colleges and taxpayers for trying to bring them up to speed on material they were supposed to learn in high school comes to between $2.3 billion and $2.9 billion annually.
"That is a very large cost, but there is an additional cost and that's the cost to the students," said former Colorado governor Roy Romer, chair of the group Strong American Schools, which is issuing the report "Diploma to Nowhere" on Monday. "These students come out of high school really misled. They think they're prepared. They got a 3.0 and got through the curriculum they needed to get admitted, but they find what they learned wasn't adequate."
Christina Jeronimo was an "A" student in high school English, but was placed in a remedial course when she arrived at Long Beach City College in California. The course was valuable in some ways but frustrating and time-consuming. Now in her third year of community college, she'd hoped to transfer to UCLA by now.
Like many college students, she wishes she'd been worked a little harder in high school.
"There's a gap," said Jeronimo, who hopes to study psychology. "The demands of the high school teachers aren't as great as the demands for college. Sometimes they just baby us."
The problem of colleges devoting huge amounts of time and money to remediation isn't new, though its scale and cost has been difficult to measure. The latest report gives somewhat larger estimates than some previous studies, though it is not out of line with trends suggested in others, said Hunter Boylan, an expert at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, who was not connected with the report.
Analyzing federal data, the report estimates 43% of community college students require remediation, as do 29% of students at public four-year universities, with higher numbers in some places. For instance, four in five Oklahoma community college students need remedial coursework, and three in five in the giant California State university system need help in English, math or both.
The cost per student runs to as much as $2,000 per student in community colleges and $2,500 in four-year universities.
Jeronimo was hardly alone at Long Beach City College, where 95% of students need remedial coursework, according to President Eloy Oakley.
"It's the number one issue to Long Beach City College and the entire California community college system, easily," Oakley said. "I don't believe that the public in general really understands the magnitude of the problem."
Simply dumping the remedial students into large classes isn't necessarily expensive for colleges, although it's also not very effective. But smaller classes typically require more attention and money. Some states have refused to fund remedial courses at the university level. In California, Oakley said, state funding for community colleges favors credit courses. Remediation (or "basic skills" as he and many educators call it) is typically noncredit.
Educators are working to improve remedial courses. Long Beach is developing "success areas" that give extra time and attention to students. Community colleges in Tennessee have completely redesigned giant introductory and remedial courses where many students were struggling.
Boylan says colleges are learning such courses must also teach study skills to be effective.
Indeed, students often report that the hardest aspect of the transition to college isn't the material. It's the new rhythm and structure of college-level work.
"One of the things that they don't teach in high school is time management," Jeronimo said.
Eric Paris, who earned a 3.8 high school GPA but is finding his freshman year at Virginia Tech much more challenging, says the big difference is "it's all on my own." In class, "it's up to me if I want to sit on Facebook or pay attention." He, too, wishes he'd taken more challenging high school classes but thought a high GPA was more important.

For the rest go to the Source:

Monday, September 22, 2008

In the News XLVIII

The Democrats are not to blame for the current credit crisis.........yeah right!!
Read about Jimmy Carter's role in this mess and how George Bush warned the do-nothing Congress 17 times about the problem in 2008 alone.

Thabo Mbeki ousted
He failed to respond rapidly to an escalating HIV crisis, gave political support to the dictator Robert Mugabe and was more renowned for his globe trotting than for tackling the out of control crime in South Africa...I say good riddance...the only problem is his soon-to be replacement Jacob Zuma seems likely to be a lot worse. The feelings in South Africa appear to be of unease.

The Boston Herald is not sold on Obama's economic plan
I would love to know where Barry O has buried the funding for a surge in Afghanistan.

The Latest Polls in the US Presidential Ultra Ultra Marathon
Obama leads by 1% nationally but McCain looks to be slightly strong in Florida and Ohio. Obama has the edge in Pennsylvania and Virginia (surprise........ surprise)
The results are very close. Lets hope it does not come down to the theatrics of 1960 or 2000.

Tzipi Livni is Israel's next prime minister but she is no Golda Meir
What worries me is that she seems to want to continue with the self-destructive policies of her predecessor Ehud Olmert.

British PM Gordon Brown's biggest problem seems to be his own party.
The following is an evaluation of his economic policy.

Tories still ahead in Canadian Election polling
The Conservatives sit at 39%, the Grits at 28%, NDP at 18% and the Greens at 7% (underrated) according to a Nanos research poll. While the lead over the Liberals is extensive this may not translate into a majority in the Commons.

Friday, September 19, 2008

26 Signs that the World is insane

1. Millions of Dollars are paid for the Brangalina baby pictures.
2. Jimmy Carter wins a Nobel Peace Prize
3. Academics call for a boycott of the only democracy in the Middle East - Israel. Non-democracies escape criticism from the same voices (who claim to be champions of human rights). 4. Champions of the failed ideologies of Marxist-Leninism (and its history of violent repression) are still considered progressives by many in the MSM.
5. Baseball players earn more money in a week than teachers earn in a year.
6. 'Canadian Left' stakes moral high ground position in arguing for abandonment of Afghanistan to the Taliban.
7. Ideology is substituted for education in many humanities and social science courses in the US and Canada. So much for university being a mind opening experience.
8. Archbishop of Canterbury makes favourable comments with respect to allowing Sharia Law in the UK.
9. Jesse Jackson jokingly claims that he will cut Barack Obama's nuts off...the Left makes barely a whisper.
10. One of the most left wing politician in the senate, Barack Obama, is re marketed as a moderate and half the US buys it.
11. Socialist politicians championing high corporate taxes without acknowledging the obvious reality that such taxes cause mass layoffs and re locations.
12. People continue to buy SUVs.
13. Universities champion free thought but then institute speech codes.
14. Lindsey Lohan is granted so much print space in the press.
15. John McCain nominates a small town rookie for his VP choice after criticizing Obama's lack of experience.
16. Schools respond to falling academic standards by dropping education requirements even further.
17. Medical students accept students with absolutely no Science background into their programs (McMaster U for example)
18. Large portions of Euclidean Geometry - which teaches students reason and logic - is axed from the Ontario Math Curriculum.
19. Ontario Liberals break umpteen different election promises but still win re-election.
20. Reality TV shows dominates the tube.
21. The Olympic Games are granted to Beijing in the first place - so much for human rights meaning anything.
22. Some Politicians not understanding the need for a large border fence between the US and Mexico.
23. The ACLU backing up the politics of Discrimination - aka Affirmative Action.
24. Political Figures acting as if we have infinite resources
25. The existence of a troop of deniers who cannot see the obvious dictatorship ambitions of Hugo Chavez.
26. Noam Chomsky, who has a well documented history of twisting the truth, being taken as a serious scholar on global politics.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

In the News XLVII

The Chavez Madness continues

Venezuela moved closer to Russia as Putin and co. offered Hugo Chavez the chance to travel on one of their bombers. This seems like another sign that Cold War II is approaching. Meanwhile the War of words continue between the US and Venezuela. The Americans have accused the Latin American strongman of aiding rebels in Colombia. I have said this before Chavez is a menace (and a boor ) who will soon impoverish his country. It would be in the best interests of Venezuela if the populace rose up to remove this dictator.

McCain still leading Obama

According to the latest Associated-GfK poll the Arizona senator is ahead by 4%. Its still very close. I myself am favouring McCain, so I will take whatever good news, comes my way, but this will very easily turn if Obama, as expected, shines in the debates (although come to think of it - Al Gore was seen as the great debater but Dubya more than held his own against him in 2000). Mean while Sarah Palin, having come through successfully with a tough interview last week, showed that she too has fight in going after Obama.

Canadian Liberals are in big trouble for Oct 14th election

Not since the John Turner era has the party looked so weak. . Even uber-Leftist
Jack Layton of the NDP has given up on them and is focusing his attack ads on the Conservatives. Meanwhile Elizabeth May of the Canadian Green Party continues to insert her foot in her mouth.

Gordon Brown facing potential banana skin in Scotland.

The problems for Britain's Prime Minister seem to be multiplying but can David Cameron and the 'rejuvenated' Tory's take advantage of this?

Sarkozy and Medvedev agree on Russian troop pull back timetable

It may be good for now but who knows what Putin will say tomorrow...Medvedev is a figure head anyway...

From the Horse's mouth - The Iran/Hamas connection. Ahmadinejad: Iran will support Hamas until collapse of Israel

More proof of the global outreach of Islamofascism.

Politics of corruption continue in South Africa

Mbeki has been less than a stellar leader and it seems as those Jacob Zuma is not much of an improvement. 'Cry the Beloved Country' is a truly a phrase that will start resonating soon.

Its been a great sporting week

Roger Federer wins his 5th US Open in a row and his 13th Grand Slam overall. This puts him one behind Pete Sampras in the all-time Grand slam winners category. As a long time Federer fan I am delighted with the Swiss star's performance - especially since he lost his No.1 world ranking earlier this year to arch-nemesis, Rafa Nadal.

Liverpool, the team I cheer for in the English Premier Football league, pulled off a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Manchester United at Anfield. It was the Red's first win over the Devils in front of the Kop (in a league match) since 2001. The Scousers were full value for the victory which came courtesy of a Ryan Babel strike in the second half. Liverpool are currently sitting second in the league - tied with Chelsea on points - but behind on goal difference. What was important about this win as well is that the Reds did it without superstar Fernando Torres, who is still recovering from a hamstring injury.

England moved a step closer to World Cup Football qualification by defeating Croatia 4-1 in Zagreb. Arsenal's wunderkind, Theo Walcott, chimed in with a hat-trick to complete a sweet night of revenge (The Croats played a major role in preventing England from qualifying for Euro 2008). I was completely blown away by this performance which occured only four days after a lacklustre win (2-0) against minnows Andorra.

Monday, September 08, 2008

In the News XLVI

David Frum sees Sarah Palin as an irresponsible choice...I tend to agree with him for the reasons outlined in this article.

Nevertheless at least one poll has McCain ahead of Obama. I don't believe that overall polls mean anything in this election........its the Electoral College that counts and I have yet to see one projection as of late where Obama trails McCain.

Asif Ali Zardari takes over the presidency of Pakistan. He faces a poor economy, riddled with corruption as well as an insurgency in the West. He is a poor choice, who has a history of indiscretions himself, and will likely butt heads with Pakistan's other powerbroker (and fellow scheister) Nawaz Sharif. Expect more fireworks in the future....

Taken at face value this article certainly implies that Tehran is spoiling for a fight with Israel Lets hope that cooler heads prevail. Congrads though to Nicholas Sarkozy for finally realizing who France's real friend is. Makes a change from the reptilian like policies of his predecessor, Jacques Chirac.

Is there a way to punish Putin for his Georgian belligerency? If there is...don't bank on an economic approach.

The Large Hadron Collider (the world's largest particle accelerator) is scheduled to open this week. While lovers of Physics, such as myself are ecstatic, not everyone shares the same sentiment. Will we be at hand to witness a Big Bang II as the linked article suggests? Perhaps. I would settle for the Higgs Boson Particle myself.

The Chavez dictatorship march continues..... Russia and Venezuela will now hold joint military exercises. In further news Chavez moved closer to nationalizing Venezuela's Fuel industry.

Canadian PM Stephen Harper loses weight and calls for an election on October 14th. Stephane Dion, does what most Liberals do when cornered..... invoke the culture of fear and the hidden agenda. I still can't believe that the Grits chose this out-of-touch egghead as their leader. Talk about a compromise.

I had to laugh at this the Independent believes that only Tony Blair (yes that same Tony Blair who was vilified over Iraq) can save Labour from defeat. Tough luck 'Boring Gordon.'

Mbeki continues to spin wheels in Zimbabwe with more accomodation of the rogue Mugabe.

Condoleeza Rice to kiss and make up with Gadhafi.... I guess it pays to say that "I am sorry."
Reminds me of a murderer who accepts Christ as his saviour on his death bed and receives absolution for his crimes. I wonder if the US will push the Libyan strongman to introduce democratic reforms in his country. I wouldn't bet on it.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

On the environment

I am starting to warm up to the Obama-Biden ticket as of late. Maybe its election fatigue but I suspect it has to do with the more more forward thinking environmental position that the Dems are championing. I still see McCain as the superior leader but I am disturbed that the Republican position on this issue falls far short of the optimum. Offshore drilling, while appealing in the short run, will negatively impact the environment and detract from the much needed effort to promote better alternatives with respect to wind, solar and geo-thermal power.
While McCain initially stood in opposition against offshore drilling - the oil corporation influence within his party (and the fact that his Veep-to-be Sarah Pallin is all gung-ho about the idea) indicates that it is very likely that he will his shift position. Future generations will face the consequence of these actions.

The US has shown throughout its history that it is a nation with a creative zest. I believe that it has within it the brain power to foster workable solutions to critical issues, of which the environment is no exception. Illogical fear mongering linking pro-environmental solutions to economic degradation are short-sighted and detract from this drive.
The Republican party - the same big tent that spawned the Nation's First Green President Theodore Roosevelt - has unfortunately been enveloped by this philosophy. If the maverick side of McCain breaks this stranglehold I will applaud his efforts. However one cannot live on a hope one must act on a plan and Obama-Biden is clearly ahead in this department.