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Teachable Moments

What do they expect?

The Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education found that “during the fall semester of 2008, first-year college students who used alcohol drank an estimated 10.2 hours per week, compared to studying only 8.4 hours per week.” One wonders if they were registered to vote.

Hoping for spare change

It’s really tempting to compare the youth vote to statistics on economic literacy among the young. The Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy (CEEL) found that among college students that the CEEL surveyed:

• “54% reported having overdrawn their bank account”;

• “63% wrongly believed that bouncing a check costs less than a two week payday loan or the fees for a wire transfer”;

• “64% of college students already have one or more credit cards”;

• “42% of freshmen are already credit card dependent”;

• “61% of total respondents reported credit card debt”; and

• “25% reported owing more than $1,000.”

More Bad News

Meanwhile, “With the number of job opportunities dwindling as the economy still struggles, one number that has gone up is the number of people who are applying to law school,” Erin McDonald-Birnbaum of Smith Publicity informs us. “The Fall 2009 school year saw an outstanding 562,104 applications and the number is expected to continue to climb.”

“With students often taking out $150,000 in loans for three years of attendance, the decision to attend law school is a competitive, expensive, and time-consuming endeavor, and it will take effort and initiative to gain admission,” Ann K. Levine, author of the book, The Law School Admission Game: Play Like An Expert writes. She babysteps budding barristers through the process, including those:

• “Still in college with limited work and life experience;

• “Considering how to build their experiences and resumes to strengthen their applications”; and

• “Concerned about writing a compelling personal statement because they haven’t experienced poverty or overcome paralysis.”

Among other things, she helps them answer such questions as:

• “How do I decide which law schools to apply to?;

• “Why is the personal statement so important and what should I write about?”; and

• “How do I explain a low LSAT score?”

F for Facebook

“College students who use Facebook spend less time studying and have lower grade point averages than students who have not signed up for the social networking website, according to a pilot study at one university,” researchers at that institution—Ohio State University—discovered. “However, more than three-quarters of Facebook users claimed that their use of the social networking site didn’t interfere with their studies.”

Imagine there’s no video

Researchers found a link between teen sexual activity and exposure to raw music lyrics. They surveyed “those who were exposed to the lowest amount (of music with degrading references), those who were exposed to sort of the medium amount, those who were exposed to the most,” one of the researchers, Dr. Brian Primack of the Center for Research on Health Care at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, told The Canadian Press. “And those who were exposed to the most were more than twice as likely to have had sexual intercourse, and that’s even controlling for all of the other factors that we looked at that we thought might be related to uptake of sexual intercourse.”

Higher Education

Test scores may not be going up but American students have been getting more elevated in at least one way. Unfortunately, it’s chemical. “The annual prevalence of any psychotropic medication in youth was significantly greater in the US (6.7%) than in the Netherlands (2.9%) and in Germany (2.0%),” a team of researchers revealed last year in the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health Journal. “Antidepressant and stimulant prevalence were 3 or more times greater in the US than in the Netherlands and Germany, while antipsychotic prevalence was 1.5–2.2 times greater.” Correspondingly, the nine researchers concluded that “Concomitant drug use applied to 19.2% of US youth which was more than double the Dutch use and three times that of German youth.”

You betcha

“46 states announced in June that they would work together to draft a set of national standards for K-12 education,” the Education Reporter reported in July. “The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers are the parties responsible for the effort, which they are calling the Common Core State Standards Initiative.”

“The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands also joined the initiative.” The Education Reporter is published by the Eagle Forum, the conservative women’s group founded by attorney and author Phyllis Schlafly.

“The four states that declined to join the standards initiative were Alaska, Missouri, South Carolina, and Texas,” the Education Reporter revealed. “No major national news story bothered to address these four states’ reasons for sitting the initiative out.”

Of course, we have found that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has problems with many standards. The others are more intriguing.

Governor Sarah Palin
held out from the rush right up until her celebrated resignation from Alaska’s highest office. “The State of Alaska fully believes that schools must have high expectations of students,” she stated. “But high expectations are not always created by new, mandated federal standards written on paper.”

“They are created in the home, the community and the classroom.” As ever, it never occurred to the elites that she might be onto something.

Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.

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Teachable Moments

Posted By Malcolm A. Kline On In News | No Comments

Here’s a couple of history lessons you are not likely to get in school.

The Depression That Wasn’t

The stentorian orator who as president saved America from the Great Depression in the first half of the last century was none other than—Warren G. Harding. “During and after World War I, the Federal Reserve inflated the money supply substantially,” historian Thomas E. Woods, Jr., writes in the May 4, 2009 issue of The American Conservative magazine. “Once the Fed finally began to raise the discount rate—the rate at which it lends to banks—the economy slowed as it started readjusting to reality.”

“By the middle of 1920, the downturn had become severe, with production failing by 21 percent over the next 12 months.” Woods is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History.

“The number of unemployed people jumped from 2.1 million in 1920 to 4.9 million in 1921,” Woods relates. In response, the newly inaugurated president promised—government austerity.

“Harding was true to his word, carrying on budget cuts that had begun under a debilitated Woodrow Wilson,” Woods recounts. “Federal spending declined from $6.3 billion in 1920 to $5 billion in 1921 and $3.3 billion in 1922.”

“Tax rates, meanwhile, were slashed—for every income group.” Woods currently is a scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

“And over the course of the 1920s, the national debt was reduced by one third,” Woods reminds us. “In contrast to Japan, which engaged in massive government intervention in 1920 that paralyzed its economy and contributed to a severe banking crisis seven years later, the U. S. allowed its economy to readjust.”

“The rally in business production and employment that started in August 1921 was soundly based on a drastic cleaning up of credit weakness, a drastic reduction in the costs of production, and on the free play of private enterprise,” economist Benjamin Anderson concludes. “It was not based on governmental policy designed to make business good.”

By way of contrast, “From 1929 onward, Herbert Hoover and then Franklin Roosevelt tried to fight an economic depression by making labor costlier to hire,” Woods notes. Flash forward to another Depression, and the depressing manner in which many who should know better are dealing with it.

Rescuing Reagan From Republicans

Mark Tapscott, editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner, has some words of wisdom for so-called mainstream Republicans who act as an echo chamber for the allegedly educated elites.

“Excuse me, Jeb Bush, but your daddy and brother already helped push the Republican Party beyond ‘the good old days’ of its Reagan legacy, and we all see how well that’s been working for the GOP since 2006, don’t we,” Tapscott wrote in The Examiner on May 7, 2009. “And excuse me, Gen. Colin Powell, but which election did you win because ‘Americans are looking for more government in their lives, not less …’?”

“Forgive me if I seem a bit cranky here, but, being a card-carrying Reaganaut since 1964, it’s hard not to be whenever the national media lectures the GOP on how to regain voters’ trust.” Tapscott served in the Reagan Administration at the Office of Personnel Management, the Civil Service clearinghouse.

“Under President Jimmy Carter, the percentage of state expenditures coming from federal funds rose to 35.4%,” the Heritage Foundation’s Morning Bell reports. “Reagan lowered that number to 24.9%.”

“Unfortunately, under President George H.W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, and President George Bush that number shot up again; reaching 42.5% in 2005.”

& Protesting Too Much or Just Enough?

“President Obama will seek to extend the controversial D. C. school voucher program until all 1,716 participants have graduated from high school, although no new students will be accepted, said an administration official who has reviewed budget details scheduled for release Thursday,” Shailagh Murray reported in The Washington Post in an article that appeared in its tabloid edition, The D. C. Express, on Thursday, May 07, 2009. On May 6, 2009, D. C. Children First and D. C. Parents for School Choice had organized a rally in support of the program at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Ave., not far from the White House.

As for Murray’s characterization of the scholarships as “controversial,” the main controversy seems to be between poor families who embrace them and teacher’s unions that despise them.

Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.