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Former Google engineer founds robot-centered AI ‘religion’

Liberty Unyielding - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 11:16pm
News.com.au (Australia)

Soros-backed PACs pumping millions into Doug Jones campaign in Alabama

Liberty Unyielding - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 11:02pm
Gabriel DeBenedetti, Politico

David Frum: It’s because of colossal screw-ups like CNN’s that people should trust the media

Liberty Unyielding - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 1:57pm
CNN now finds itself in an unenviable place. Having recently suffered ratings hits, this newest hot mess is going to take an heroic effort to convince the public to continue tuning in.

Throwing Good Money after Bad Doesn’t Improve Government Schools

Center for Freedom and Prosperity (CF&P) - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 12:37pm

Whenever I discuss education policy with one of my leftist friends, it usually follows the same script.

They’ll ask whether I want good education for kids. I’ll say yes. They’ll then say we should devote more money to government schools.

I then show them this powerful chart and point out that we’ve been following their approach for 40-plus years and that it hasn’t worked.

None of them has ever had an effective or coherent response.

I then point out that the United States spends far more than other developed nations, on a per-pupil basis. Yet our national test scores are dismal compared to other developed nations.

Once again, none of them has ever had an effective or coherent response.

The simple reality is that giving more money to government schools is a foolish gesture.

Today, we’re going to look at some additional evidence.

Research from the World Bank pours cold water on the notion that more money for teachers leads to better outcomes for students.

…countries sometimes implement large increases in public-sector salaries to attract higher-quality applicants to government jobs and to better motivate existing employees. …understanding the extent to which unconditional pay increases make incumbent public-sector workers more motivated and productive is a key consideration in evaluating the cost effectiveness of such salary increases. …In this paper, we provide experimental evidence on the impact of a large unconditional salary increase on the effort and productivity of incumbent public employees. Our study was conducted in the context of a policy change in Indonesia that permanently doubled the base pay of eligible civil-service teachers… The reform moved teacher salaries from the 50th to the 90th percentile of the college-graduate salary distribution. Civil-service teachers in Indonesia also enjoy generous benefits and high job security, and quit rates were very low even before the pay increase. Thus, the teachers in our study are typical of public-sector employees in many low- and middle-income countries, who hold highly coveted jobs and enjoy a significant wage premium relative to their private-sector counterparts.

So what were the results of this experiment? The good news, as you might expect, is that teachers were quite happy.

The experiment significantly improved measures of teacher welfare: At the end of two and three years of the experiment, teachers in treated schools had higher income, were more likely to be satisfied with their income, and were less likely to report financial stress.

But for those of us who actually want better education for children, the results were not very satisfactory.

…despite this improvement in incumbent teachers’ pay, satisfaction, …the policy did not improve either their effort or student learning. Teachers in treated schools did not score better on tests of teacher subject knowledge, and we find no consistent pattern of impact on self-reported measures of teacher attendance. Most importantly, we find no difference in student test scores in language, mathematics, or science across treatment and control schools. …Finally, we use the school-level random assignment as an instrumental variable for being taught by a certified teacher in a given year, and find no improvement in student test scores from being taught by a certified teacher (relative to students in control schools taught by similar “target” teachers). These effects are also precisely estimated…our results are consistent with other studies finding no correlation between teacher salaries in the public sector and their teaching effectiveness (Muralidharan and Sundararaman 2011, Bau and Das 2017), and with studies finding that contract teachers who are paid much lower salaries than civil-service teachers are no less effective (Muralidharan and Sundararaman 2013, Duflo, Dupas, and Kremer 2015, Bau and Das 2017).

Indonesia is not similar to the United States, so some people will want to dismiss these finding.

But the authors note that U.S.-focused studies have reached the same conclusion.

Our results are consistent with prior studies finding no correlation between in creases in teacher pay and improved student performance in the US (Hanushek 1986; Betts 1995; Grogger 1996).

If giving teachers more money doesn’t work, is it possible that spending more money on facilities will help?

Let’s look at another academic study, published in the Journal of Public Economics, for some insight. Here’s the approach used by the scholars.

In this paper we provide the most comprehensive assessment of achievement effects from school facility investments initiated and financed by local school districts. The first part of the analysis examines the impact of nearly 1400 capital campaigns initiated by 748 school districts in the state of Texas over a 14-year period. …We examine the impact of capital campaigns on student outcomes using information on all tested students in the state over this time period, which includes all 3rd through 8th graders and 10th or 11th graders that take the state’s high school exit exam.

And here are the very disappointing results.

…the second part of the study directly measures the effect of capital investment on students actually exposed to it by analyzing more than 1300 major campus renovations. Controls for lagged individual test scores permit us to address changes in student composition resulting from capital investment, analogous to “value-added” models of teacher effectiveness. With or without this adjustment, we find no evidence of achievement effects of major campus renovations, even for renovations that appear to have generated large improvements in school facility conditions. Our estimates are sufficiently precise such that we can rule out positive effects larger than about 0.02 for math and 0.01 for reading for the first four years following a campus renovation.

By the way, I’m not arguing that pay and facilities are irrelevant. I think the takeaway from these studies is that more money doesn’t help when the underlying structure of the education system is faulty. So long as we have a centralized monopoly, more money isn’t going to help.

Unfortunately, American politicians are part of the problem.

Under President George W. Bush, the federal government spent more money on education and grabbed more control of the sector as part of the so-called No Child Left Behind initiative. That didn’t yield good results.

Under President Barack Obama, the same thing happened. Thanks to Common Core, the federal government spent more money on education and grabbed more control of the sector. That didn’t yield good results.

Indeed, a report last year for the National Center for Policy Analysis notes the dismal impact of the federal government.

Over the years, federal funding of primary and secondary education has increased, while students’ academic performance has flatlined. For instance, the high school reading and math scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress show that student performance has remained flat for the past 20 years… education reform initiatives by several administrations produced, at best, minimal improvements in student performance at a high price to taxpayers. Given its track record, the federal government should get out of the education business. Federal education reforms have failed to achieve their goals and failed to have a positive impact on education performance.

Amen. The Department of Education in Washington should be eliminated. It’s part of the problem.

Let’s close with a Reason video that looks at some absurd examples of how taxpayer money is wasted by the government school monopoly.

Teachers handing out questionnaires asking pre-teens if they’re ‘comfortable with their gender’

Liberty Unyielding - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 11:22am
'Clearly we need to be sensitive about the issue of gender and sexual orientation but forcing children to question whether they are the right gender so early on can be deeply destabilising.'

Cartoon of the Day: The Apprentice

Liberty Unyielding - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 11:14am
Robert Mueller

Virginia Politicians Surprised Drivers Object to Destination Tax

Tea Party Tribune - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 11:13am

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) opened a new toll road recently. The highway has been in existence since 1982, but the toll gantries are new. Rush hour tolling, between 5:30 and 9:30 AM, is a test of how badly you want to reach The Swamp.

VDOT uses a system called ‘dynamic tolling’, which works out to ‘do you feel lucky’? Instead of a nice predictable toll that’s the same every morning, Swamp Pike tolls adjust according to how much traffic is on the road. The goal is to keep One Percenters and vehicular communes moving along at a nice, even 55 mph.

This is harder than it seems, since many DC–area motorists drive like the last transportation they operated was a burro. Our ‘diverse’ drivers have a tendency to pause and contemplate cars stopped on the shoulder, flashing blue lights and the odd grocery bag blowing across the freeway.

On the second day the inbound toll peaked at $40 dollars one way for a 10–mile trip. Frankly, I wouldn’t pay $40 to drive into DC and watch Roy Moore sign high school yearbooks. If you want to be penalized by the government, it’s cheaper to take up smoking. One would have to inhale 13 cartons of cigarettes by noon each day to reach $40.00 in taxes.

What’s really interesting was the response of transportation officials to criticism. Their off–hand justification was punish–the–driver propaganda that’s common among transportation wallahs nationwide.

Sec. of Transportation Aubrey Lane told the Washington Post, “No one has to pay a toll. You simply could have put another person in your car and avoid a toll [sic]…everyone has a choice…we wanted to change behavior, we don’t have the resources to continue to lay asphalt and have congested roadways.”

Lane is offering the bandit’s choice: Your money or your life.

The people on the receiving end of this Let’em–Eat–Cakeism aren’t gun owners or disreputable people like Trump voters. They’re among the state’s most productive citizens who are JUST TRYING TO GET TO WORK!

When it comes to trying to stamp out ‘privilege,’ solo drivers are right up there with white people as far as the left is concerned. How dare they want to drive to work and have the flexibility to come and go as they please.

Think of the backlash if this offhand dismissal of genuine constituent concern was applied to other areas of life. Would a police chief confronted by women worried by increasing crime tell them it’s time to “change their behavior”? And then suggest they buy a gun and stop dressing so provocatively?

How about parents dealing with over–crowded schools? Would superintends tell mothers their kids are going to have to get used to someone sitting in their lap, and by the way you might consider using stronger birth control?

And isn’t is strange how transportation experts assure us building more roads is pointless because new highways are an automobile magnet. While no politician has ever said the city won’t build more schools because the buildings just fill up with kids.

The real thumb–in–the–driver’s–eye for this particular toll road is the millions of dollars raised won’t be spent on increasing road capacity. Instead the money will go increasing bicycle capacity, along with other “transit improvements” that include new bus routes and park–and–ride facilities.

Politician’s obsession with forcing their constituents into carpools is another example of elected hypocrisy. Like the Washington, DC Metro board members who it was discovered didn’t actually take the subway, I can’t think of any elected official that has ever been a member of a carpool.

The only time most of those hypocrites want to cozy up to constituents is in a hot tub.

The absolute topper though, is that drivers docilely accept the fact their transportation priorities will continue to be ignored in the future. We’ve come full circle in Virginia. In the 19th Century state government was too small to pay for roads and most of its effort was devoted to keeping the black man down. The solution was privately–owned toll roads.

Now state government is too big and too lazy to build new roads, so in a particularly larcenous twist it takes a road like I–66 that has already been paid for and makes it a turnpike. It’s time for driver’s everywhere to rise up an exhibit some roads rage. We should be circling our respective state capitals like Comanches until legislators start expanding the highway network.

If that won’t work then it’s time to go nuclear. Force politicians to use mass transit to get to work until they build some new roads for the rest of us.

The post Virginia Politicians Surprised Drivers Object to Destination Tax appeared first on Tea Party Tribune.

Celeb chef Mario Batali latest to be accused of sexual harassment

Liberty Unyielding - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 11:01am
Margaret Whitfield, AppleEats

Sanders renews call for Trump to step down after Franken resignation

Liberty Unyielding - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 10:26am
Jacqueline Thomsen, The Hill

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