Alternative Energy Czar
Steven Chu may look like a fine, Nobel Prize-winning energy czar. He’s brilliant in developing alternative energy and an advocate of biofuels. But if “coal is my worst nightmare,” as he stated repeatedly in a speech earlier this year, is he really about producing energy when coal supplies about half of America’s power and petroleum powers everything else that isn’t plugged in? It seems that he and Obama are of one mind to put the top priority on adopting alternative energy, regardless of the cost or technical risk.
Failed Bush Policies
FairTest, a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to preventing the misuse of standardized tests, is not impressed with Obama’s education pick, Arne Duncan. Duncan implemented Bush’s No Child Left Behind Chicago style, with misuse of high-stakes tests that forced children to repeat grades and teachers to be fired. Obama kept Gates and will simply continue the “failed” Bush policy of crushing the insurgency, negotiating a pull-out date and beefing up Afghanistan.
In the latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, American fourth and eighth graders scored above the international average in math. Education experts are hailing this as proof that angry parents were wrong about the new no-math mathematics. The bad news is that Americans were beat not only by Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan, but also by Russia, Borat’s Kazakhstan, England and Latvia – all places where “old math” still dominates.
The “new new” math puts racial equality as its top goal. Yet in America, Asians outscore whites, and whites exceed the international average. Hispanics were just average, while black students brought up the rear.
U.S. Asians are just as far ahead in Asia; that’s a two-year lead, despite attending American schools. On the international table, Asian Americans scored an average of 582 and trail only Hong Kong and Singapore, and they’re ahead of Taiwan and Japan. Euro Americans averaged 550 and beat the very same four European nations above the U.S. average, including England. Hispanic Americans averaged 505 and rivaled Austria and Sweden. Blacks equaled Norway, with an average score of 482, plus Ukraine and Georgia.
I doubt anyone else will admit that 1) Asian and Euro Americans are the equals of the best nations from their home continents or 2) Hispanics and blacks are as good in math as average or below-average Europeans. Instead, experts will continue to complain about “unexplainable” and “unacceptable” gaps, instead of insisting that everybody study math the way Asians have always done it.
Religion, State and Education
The Telegraph of London reports that the British government pays for religious groups to run about one-third of state-funded schools, and they get better test scores. Eighty-five percent of students at Anglican, Roman Catholic, Jewish and Muslim schools passed the basics compared with 79 percent otherwise. The best schools overall were Muslim, whereas Jewish schools had the best test scores.
Some officials despair that, while strict moral and behavior codes might help raise grades, the real problem is that lessons discouraging homosexuality may be shortchanging a truly high-quality education – something Americans would never stand for.