Sunday, November 18, 2007

Commentary 3

Teacher pay must be earned
Posted by Star-Ledger editorial board November 17, 2007 10:30PM

It would be foolhardy to entrust the education of children to schools that do not pay their teachers enough to hire and keep good ones.
So no one should mind that most New Jersey communities are now paying starting teachers $40,000 or more a year. The New Jersey Education Association once set $40,000 as a statewide goal. Some communities are already paying rookie teachers $50,000 or more, and that salary now is the NJEA's goal.
To think it was only 22 years ago that people railed against state legislation that required all districts to pay teachers at least $18,500.

Teaching is a very demanding profession, and $50,000 does not go very far in a high-cost state like New Jersey.
Of course, others making $50,000 do not have the schedule of summer vacations and free days that teachers enjoy, nor the protection of tenure in their careers.
Taxpayers who pay teachers' salaries, and the students whose futures very much depend on what happens in classrooms, have a right to demand good work for good pay.
But it also is foolhardy for the NJEA to pretend that its demands are all that matter in districts where property taxes, chiefly for education, are reaching maximum load. In many communities, the overall educational results remain marginal, and the per capita income of residents is not close to $50,000. It is similarly foolhardy to tolerate contracts that demand added pay for teachers to do anything new or extra.
The NJEA has set the bar high for salaries. The bar for performance must be high as well.
It is only when respect flows freely between teachers and those they serve that the payoff for both teaching and education is what it should be.


Posted by Zemack on 11/18/07 at 8:38PM
Only a free market in education can ensure that the best teachers receive the highest pay. An arbitrary set of standards created by some board or committee can never take into account such intangible teacher qualities as inspiring the student's interest, generating his (or her) understanding rather than merely cramming his head with facts, and training his mind on the tools of logic necessary to acquire and integrate knowledge on his own and to relate that knowledge to broader abstractions.

Only when the people who know their children best, the parents, are able to "vote with their feet (and their education dollars)" and enroll their children with the teachers and schools they judge best will we begin to see a resurgence in America's quality of education. The schools with the best teachers, educational philosophies and methods will succeed and proliferate, while the inferior schools will either change or fall by the wayside.

Original referenced link

Friday, November 16, 2007

Commentary 2

By Rowan Callick, The American

From Vietnam to Syria, from Burma to Venezuela, and all across Africa, leaders of developing countries are admiring and emulating what might be called the China Model. It has two components. The first is to copy successful elements of liberal economic policy by opening up much of the economy to foreign and domestic investment, allowing labor flexibility, keeping the tax and regulatory burden low, and creating a first-class infrastructure through a combination of private sector and state spending. The second part is to permit the ruling party to retain a firm grip on government, the courts, the army, the internal security apparatus, and the free flow of information. A shorthand way to describe the model is: economic freedom plus political repression. link to full article


Readers' comments

By: Mike Zemack on November 15, 2007
at 9:01 pm

The essential principle of Capitalism is the abolition of force from human relationships, with people dealing with each other by voluntary association and trade to mutual advantage. Authoritarianism is rule by brute force. The two cannot co-exist, longer term, except as a transition to a system of full politico-economic freedom. Economic freedom by permission is a contradiction in terms. The China Model seems to “work” because economic freedom is a pre-condition to political freedom, but only a precondition. One can view the trend toward “economic freedom plus political repression” positively, but only if it is part of an evolution toward limited constitutional government. Ultimately, this lethal contradiction must be resolved by a turn to individual rights and the rule of objective law rather than men, or collapse into despotism and economic destitution. The China Model is a pipe dream of parasitic little dictators like Hugo Chavez who fantasize about absolute rule over the wealth created by free people. But, alas, free minds and free markets are corollaries that won’t submit to the power-lusting whims of the Chavez’s of the world.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Commentary 1

Morality or economics?
Posted by Terry Golway November 07, 2007 8:43AM
Categories: Politics
I wouldn't be so quick to view the failure of the stem-cell bond question as a referendum on the state's finances. That's how it's being played in the media today, but I think it's a rush to judgment.

As Professor Joseph Marbach of Seton Hall University points out in today's Star-Ledger, lots of church-going voters went to the polls thinking not about the state's debt, but about the morality of stem-cell research.

Most political observers, I would argue, fail to take into account the many conversations that took place in and around houses of worship before Election Day. Professor Marbach noted that some voters may have been influenced by clergy who oppose stem cell research, or who believe that such research requires a broader discussion of ethical implications.

I think he's absolutely right.

And, by the way, there's nothing wrong that that. When the sacred intersects with the secular, clerics have every right to speak up from the pulpit.

But I found that people who complain about this mix of church and state generally are inconsistent in their concerns. Conservatives were aghast two decades ago when many clergy in the U.S. supported the nuclear freeze movement, and when American Catholic bishops called for more affordable housing and cuts to defense spending.

Liberals welcomed the clergy's support. But when today's clerics denounce abortion or gay marriage or stem cell research, liberals invariably raise the issue of church-state separation. In general, I've found, political activists welcome clerical support but turn into strict constructionists when clergy oppose their views.

Stem cell research is not just another political issue. For many people of faith, the issue is loaded with moral and ethical implications that have yet to be resolved. To see the bond question's failure in strictly political terms is to be blind to the concerns of voters who weren't thinking of the state's grim finances. They were concerned about ethics and morality -- issues that are not necessarily associated with politics and government these days.

There's no question that stem cell research holds a great deal of promise. But it may be that the state's voters want to hear more about how the research will be conducted, and less about how they will pay for the research.

My Commentary:

Zemack on 11/09/07 at 4:52PM
I agree that the state's fiscal problems is unlikely to have been the reason for the defeat of the stem cell bond issue. But I don't think that the vote was a referendum on the level of support for this area of medical research either.

I strongly support unfeddered stem cell research, and I voted against the bond issue. This is not a contradictary position.

Stem cell research, including embryonic, is a highly moral area of study; moral, that is, if human life is the standard of value. Try looking at a loved one or dear friend and then declaring that their lives are less valuable than a cluster of cells called an embryo, which is a potential, not an actual, human being.

But to claim support for stem cell research on the basis of man's value while simultaneously violating the rights of those who disagree by forcing them to pay for your beliefs through their taxes is a contradiction in terms. Supporters can use charitable contributions, investments in private research companies and other means to voluntarily finance stem cell research. Opponents can refuse to by medical products resulting from this work.

No one should be forced to act against his own judgement.

Referenced Link