Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Education and No Child Left Behind

One of the most cynical education programs ever put into place, in my opinion, is the No Child Left Behind program. It’s impact, while claiming lofty goals, in actuality forced schools to exclude students who would fail, so as not to have them on their statistical base.

Quote from article: If low-achieving students leave school early, a school’s performance can rise.

In this story from the New York Times you can read how US schools fudge statistics to have a respectable high school graduation rate for federal funding purposes, while the truth is far less positive.

JACKSON, Miss. — When it comes to high school graduation rates, Mississippi keeps two sets of books.

One team of statisticians working at the state education headquarters here recently calculated the official graduation rate at a respectable 87 percent, which Mississippi reported to Washington. But in another office piled with computer printouts, a second team of number crunchers came up with a different rate: a more sobering 63 percent.

The state schools superintendent, Hank Bounds, says the lower rate is more accurate and uses it in a campaign to combat a dropout crisis.

“We were losing about 13,000 dropouts a year, but publishing reports that said we had graduation rate percentages in the mid-80s,” Mr. Bounds said. “Mathematically, that just doesn’t work out.”

Like Mississippi, many states use an inflated graduation rate for federal reporting requirements under the No Child Left Behind law and a different one at home. As a result, researchers say, federal figures obscure a dropout epidemic so severe that only about 70 percent of the one million American students who start ninth grade each year graduate four years later.

California, for example, sends to Washington an official graduation rate of 83 percent but reports an estimated 67 percent on a state Web site. Delaware reported 84 percent to the federal government but publicized four lower rates at home.

The multiple rates have many causes. Some states have long obscured their real numbers to avoid embarrassment. Others have only recently developed data-tracking systems that allow them to follow dropouts accurately.

The No Child law is also at fault. The law set ambitious goals, enforced through sanctions, to make every student proficient in math and reading. But it established no national school completion goals.

“I liken N.C.L.B. to a mile race,” said Bob Wise, a former West Virginia governor who is president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, a group that seeks to improve schools. “Under N.C.L.B., students are tested rigorously every tenth of a mile. But nobody keeps track as to whether they cross the finish line.”

Furthermore, although the law requires schools to make only minimal annual improvements in their rates, reporting lower rates to Washington could nevertheless cause more high schools to be labeled failing — a disincentive for accurate reporting. With Congressional efforts to rewrite the law stalled, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has begun using her executive powers to correct the weaknesses in it. Ms. Spellings’s efforts started Tuesday with a measure aimed at focusing resources on the nation’s worst schools. Graduation rates are also on her agenda.

You can read the rest of the story HERE.

Our young people are the leaders and decision makers of tomorrow. My generation thought we were going to change the world, and here the world continues on it’s merry way to pollution, desolation and degradation. I hope the young people of today can do what we have failed to do – create a better world.

March 20, 2008 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Crime, Cultural, Education, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Social Issues, Statistics | 8 Comments

Qatteri Cat Good for My Health

BBC Health News this morning tells me the Qatteri Cat is good for my health!


He doesn’t look at all surprised by the news, does he?

Or, the article states further down, it may be that people who choose to adopt cats may have other behaviors which help lower health risks 😉

‘Healthier hearts’ for cat owners

Cat owners appear to have a much lower risk of dying from a heart attack than their feline-spurning counterparts, a study suggests.
Researchers looked at nearly 4,500 adults and found that cat ownership was related to a 40% lower risk of suffering a fatal heart attack.

The team speculated that having a cat may reduce stress and anxiety, and so protect against cardiovascular disease.

The findings of the study were unveiled at the International Stroke Conference.

The study, led by Professor Adnan Qureshi at the University of Minnesota, suggested that even those who no longer owned a cat benefited from these protective effects

You can read the rest of this study HERE

March 20, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Health Issues, Living Conditions, News, Pets, Women's Issues | 9 Comments

Saudi Women Only Hotel

From today’s BBC News:

Saudis open hotel for women only
The Middle East’s first women-only hotel has opened in Saudi Arabia.
It will cater primarily to businesswomen, who work completely covered from head to toe in public and have to observe strict segregation.

The hotel, in Riyadh, has 25 rooms and boasts fine dining and conference facilities, as well as a range of health and beauty treatments.

Its executive director said the response to the idea of a hotel just for women had been overwhelming.

The Luthan Hotel & Spa is owned by a group of 20 Saudi princesses and businesswomen.

It hopes to attract expatriates from the nearby diplomatic quarter as well as local women.

It is the first spa hotel in the kingdom available to women all the time – pools in other hotels are only open to women on certain fixed days or hours.

You can read more about the hotel HERE

March 20, 2008 Posted by | Building, Bureaucracy, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Privacy, Saudi Arabia, Social Issues, Women's Issues | 8 Comments