Teachers go to court against Federal mandated evaluations….

As the Federal Government attaches more states education money to teacher evaluations and those evaluations move from assessments by management to value-added scores that may count things that have nothing to do with teachers teaching….Teachers are going to court…..

No Child Left Behind, a George Bush era Federal program and Race to the Top, a Obama program offer hundred of millions of dollars to cash starved states to implement more and more testing for students and teachers….

The changes have ignited a growing fight in the nations courts….

Critics say that the unions are exaggerating both the problems associated with value-added scores and the weight that they carry in evaluations. Value-added scores account for up to 50 percent of evaluations in some states, and a smaller portion in many others, with the remainder of teachers’ ratings comprised of classroom observations and other measures.

“Essentially teacher unions don’t want any evaluation,” said Eric Hanushek, an economist at Stanford University’s conservative Hoover Institute and a supporter of value-added measures. “That’s what they’re angling for.”

Until recently, teachers’ evaluations in many jurisdictions were based almost exclusively on principals’ observations, and the vast majority of teachers were rated satisfactory. But the Obama administration made test-based evaluations a requirement for any state that wanted to compete for Race to the Top grant money or win relief from the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Now 35 states require student achievement to be a significant factor in teacher evaluations, and many school districts are using those evaluations to make decisions about teacher bonuses and as a basis for firings.

Most states are using the value-added models to determine how much teachers contribute to their students’ achievement on standardized tests. But only a fraction of teachers teach subjects and grade levels that are tested…..


Democart Martin O’Malley knocks Clinton ‘Triangulation’

This formet Governor of Viginia is off the charts for the 2016 Democratic nomination nod….

But as I and others have asked….

“Who will primary Hillary Clinton?’

Martin O’Malley may be that person…..

Some Democrats hope Mrs. Clinton will face a strong primary challenge, worrying that without one she might be unresponsive to some progressives.

The remarks from Mr. O’Malley, who is viewed as facing an uphill battle, signaled a new phase both of his own efforts, after a year of saying he was not in “compare-contrast” mode with Mrs. Clinton, and of the early 2016 campaign.

The politics of triangulation is a phrase often used to describe former President Bill Clinton’s brand of centrism. It has also been used to criticize Mrs. Clinton as overly poll driven, and liberals have long used it as a cudgel*. In a pivotal Democratic primary speech in November 2007 in Iowa, Mr. Obama deployed “triangulation” as an attack line against Mrs. Clinton.

A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton declined to comment on Mr. O’Malley’s remarks….


* Cudgel – bludgeon, club, beat, batter, bash...Wiki…


New York City Speed Camera location’s and the $$$ thing…

 Neighboring Nassau County NY just got rid of their school speed camera’s after a bruising grass routes political campaign against them….

The City of New York has added 51 of the camera’s to its streets….

WNYC has just posted a pice on their placement and also brought up the revenue angle of their use….

City officials won’t say where they’ve placed the city’s controversial speed cameras. But using ticket data, WNYC found them.

About half of the 51 cameras appear to be active in fixed locations, based on where and when tickets were issued. The rest are mounted on city vehicles and rove from place to place.


The number of Unionized Americans continues to drop….

Led by Republican Governors and legislatures ….

Union’s continue to be under attack….

Unions are rapidly losing their grip on their onetime stronghold: the industrial Midwest.

A ranking of America’s most-unionized states in 2014 didn’t include Midwestern states among the top seven. The last remaining member of that group, Michigan, slid to No. 11 last year from the seventh spot in 2013, according to a ranking compiled using Labor Department data.

The slide of this traditionally heavily unionized state at a center of U.S. manufacturing underscores the labor movement’s challenge to maintain political power and rebuild in a changing economy. That’s something labor leaders have been contemplating this week at the AFL-CIO’s executive council meeting in Atlanta, where raising wages, collective bargaining, trade and politics have been on the agenda.

America’s union-membership rate fell to 11.1% last year from 11.3% in 2013, continuing a decadeslong slide from about 20% 30 years ago. Last year, 19 states had rates above the nation’s 11.1% average.

America’s union-membership rate fell to 11.1% last year from 11.3% in 2013, continuing a decadeslong slide from about 20% 30 years ago. Last year, 19 states had rates above the nation’s 11.1% average.

New York, Alaska, Hawaii and Washington held the top four spots, as they did in 2013. New Jersey rose to fifth from eighth as its membership rate increased slightly and California–which has more union members than any other state–maintained the sixth spot. Oregon rose to seventh from 12th as its rate increased to 15.6% from 13.9%.


Did Republican House Speaker Boehner make a deal with Dem’s that screws his rightwingnuts?

Somebody thinks so…..

House Democrats signaled Friday that Republicans have cut a deal with them to pass a Homeland Security funding measure next week that would last until Sept. 30.

But Republicans are denying it.

The deal, Democrats said, was made in exchange for Democratic votes in favor of a one-week extension of Homeland funding, which passed late Friday and averted a partial closure of the Department of Homeland Security.

In the hours before the final vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urged fellow Democrats to vote for the one-week deal, telling them it would lead to the full funding measure they are seeking.

“Your vote tonight will assure that we will vote for full funding next week,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi aides would not comment on the nature of the talks that took place with Obama, or if she struck a deal with Boehner. But one top aide denied Democrats voted for the week-long deal at the request of the president.

“Not true,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said on Twitter….



I mean it’s not like Boehner hasn’t had work WITH Democrats before to get around his right flank in the House has it?

Does the CPAC Straw Poll belong to the Paul’s?

Since 2009 the CPAC Straw Poll ‘s have been won by Ron Paul TWICE and Rand Paul TWICE…..

The only Republican to beat the father or son Paul team wins since 2005 is Mitt Romney….

So even with the Walker and Bush noise this week?

Some think that Rand Paul, and his appeal to the younger Republicans along with his people’s organizational skills, will land him another win in the events staw poll….

Rand Paul’s likely White House foes are looking to end his Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll hot streak.

The Kentucky senator is still the frontrunner to win the annual measure of grassroots support after claiming victory for the past two years.

But how deep other potential rivals — most notably Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — cut into his support will show who is on the rise in the 2016 GOP field.
“Every year serious candidates come to CPAC and organize and get people to come here for the specific purpose of voting for them in the straw poll,” said Citizens United President David Bossie. “Does it at the end of the day really mean anything that you can have the money and an organization to bus people in? Probably, because that means you have money and an organization. It’s important.”

The establishment-minded Bush bused in hundreds of supporters to show strength in the convention space and at the straw poll ballot box, while rising star Walker had plenty of vocal backers in the building as well.

Like his father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) before him, the younger Paul has dominated the younger, libertarian-leaning event in recent years. This year was no different, and his allies made a visible push to keep his hot streak alive at an annual rite of passage for GOP candidates…..



One can see where the fight for the nomination COULD come down to Jeb Bush and Rand Paul based just on the delegate counting….

Rand Paul at CPAC 2015….

Not to many people in the media wrote about his appearance…..

But it appears he also did Ok….

Sen. Rand Paul got a rousing reception this afternoon at the Conservative Political Action Conference, lighting up a crowd that tends to have a libertarian streak to it, saying, “In the coming weeks, I will propose the largest tax cut in American history.”

Speaking with rolled-up sleeves, he promised to pitch “a tax cut that will leave more money in the paychecks of every worker in America. My tax plan will keep the IRS out of your life and out the way of every job creator in America. My plan will also cut spending and balance the budget in just five years.”

Paul, R-Ky., blasted Congress, now controlled by Republicans, calling it “dysfunctional.”

“Often, bills are plopped on our desk with only a few hours to review,” he said. “No one, and I mean no one, is able to read what is in the bill. I propose something truly outrageous: Congress should read every bill.”

The crowd was packed with supporters, and Paul was interrupted by chants of “President Paul, President Paul.” He perhaps received the loudest applause when talking about personal privacy and going after the woman he may face if he they both choose to run in 2016: Hillary Clinton.

“Hillary’s war in Libya is a perfect example,” he told the CPAC crowd in National Harbor, Maryland. “Hillary’s war made us less safe,” adding, “Libya’s less stable.”

He said to cheers: “It’s time for Hillary Clinton to permanently retire.”

Calling the crowd “lovers of liberty,” he asked them to “rise to the occasion.”



To those who complained about Jeb Bush packing the crowd?

Seems that the OTHER GUYS did so ALSO….

Men Who Mine Volcanoes….

…Crazy stuff from the Atlantic…..

Ijen is a quietly active volcano on the Indonesian island of East Java, and it is also a place of business. Local workers hike up the side of the mountain and down into the crater at the top to harvest its sulfur—a byproduct of the gas that escapes from the volcano’s vents and collects near the shores of an acidic lake at the crater’s center. The chemical is used in industry worldwide, from making matchsticks to vulcanizing rubber, but Ijen’s sulfur goes mostly to local factories, which use it to bleach sugar.

Ijen is one of the few volcanic sulfur mines remaining in the world: Mining an active volcano is dangerous work, and there are easier ways to get the chemical. I first became curious about the volcano after seeing it featured in the 2001 documentary War Photographer. The film showed the protagonist James Nachtwey coughing furiously as he clicked his camera amid clouds of sulfur. Being a photographer myself, I wondered how the place would look in person and whether the conditions could be as bad as they seemed. It struck me as impossible that the slight-statured miners shown in the film could really carry heavy loads of sulfur up and down a mountain.

Ijen spits out striking blue flames that are only visible at night, which is when tourists hike up the mountain to see them. The sulfur miners get started shortly afterward, around sunrise, to do a few hours of work before the heat of the day sets in. They use simple tools such as stones, steel bars, and shovels to break the sulfur into chunks small enough to load into baskets and bags, which they then haul two hours back down the mountain. They can sell their harvest for about 7 cents a kilogram, so some miners carry up to 90 kilograms on their shoulders in large baskets connected by bamboo poles. The few miners who are capable of making the full four-hour trip up and back down the mountain twice a day can earn about $11.
These workers are exposed to danger even before they enter the mine’s toxic atmosphere, beginning with the slippery, rocky paths up the mountain. The crater’s air stings the lungs and eyes. Sometimes a miner will get trapped in a cloud of the sulfurous smoke that pours out of the volcano, which can lead to coughing fits or even loss of consciousness. The gas mask I wore wasn’t leak-proof, so I found myself coughing for weeks after my time in the crater….


image….Kevin McElvaney

Open Thread for February 27, 2015…Jeb Bush gets a Big One…

Jeb Bush had to come out at least even at the CPAC get together today….

Scott Walker has been riding a Conservative wave for the past few weeks that has SOME thinking he could be even with Jeb….

He isn’t….

No matter what the polling shows?

Scott Walker does NOT have the organization, history or the expertise to beat Jeb Bush and his family….

Today Jeb Bush came on stage and started slowly….

But by the time he left?

He was Ok….

Not Great….

But enough to keep truckin on against people who think a guy who IS a Conservative…But is willing to bend on certain issues?….Can run a better campaign come next fall than a guy who never finished college and is clueless about leading a country of 300 Million….

image….REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

House and Senate Agree to ONE WEEK funding of Homeland Security Dept…


This is a disgrace…..

The Democrats again bail Boehner out with his party….

Republicans vowing to govern effectively as a congressional majority failed a fundamental test Friday, when House leaders managed to narrowly pass only a seven-day funding extension to avert a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security just hours before money was to run out.

The agreement was reached after a stunning and humiliating setback for Speaker John A. Boehner and his leadership team earlier Friday, when the House voted 224 to 203 against their original plan to extend funding for the department for three weeks — a position that Mr. Boehner had considered a fail-safe. More than 50 House Republicans defected, voting against the bill.

The House’s defeat of a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security exposed crippling internal divisions.

The speaker was rescued by Democrats, who supported his offer of a week-long extension because they believed it would lead to a vote next week on full funding for the department through the fiscal year, without the provisions of an original House bill that would have gutted President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Michael Steel, a spokesman for Mr. Boehner, said the speaker had made no promises or deals with House Democrats to guarantee such a vote…..


House Does NOT go along on funding the Homeland Security Department…

As in the past….

House Speaker Boehner simply CANNOT get things within his own party in the House….

With Democrats standing on the side ?

The Speaker is stuck…

House Republicans on Friday failed to pass their own proposal to fund the Department of Homeland Security, leaving lawmakers scrambling to keep the agency open just hours before money is set to run out at midnight.

The House had hoped to extend funding for three weeks in order to avert a partial shutdown of the department, but could not assemble the votes. It fell by 224 to 203.

The embarrassing defeat for House Speaker John A. Boehner and his leadership team came after the Senate had passed its own legislation in the morning to fund the department through the fiscal year.

House Republicans had hoped to pass their own counterproposal, a short-term measure fund the department for three weeks, pushing the fight over President Obama’s immigration policies into March.

But after a day of behind-the-scenes arm twisting and cajoling, the temporary fix collapsed during a tense vote on the House floor Friday evening. Many of the conference’s more conservative measures refused to support their leadership’s bill, and House Democrats remained largely unified, leaving Mr. Boehner without the necessary votes.


Jeb Bush Holds his own at CPAC….

He showed up…..He talked…He made out Ok….

Jeb Bush stood his ground in front of an occasionally hostile crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, giving a strong defense of his conservative record that seemed to slowly disarm his opponents in the crowd.

The former Florida governor’s appearance had all of the feeling of the main event of the three-day conservative confab.

The crowd piled in early to pack the standing-room-only middle section of the Potomac Ballroom at the Gaylord National Convention Center just across the border from the nation’s capital. Conference-goers stood along the walls, blocking entrances into the huge conference room.

Rather than a speech, Bush opted for a question-and-answer session with Fox News host and conservative firebrand Sean Hannity, who challenged Bush early on immigration and Common Core, his two biggest liabilities among conservatives.

“Every article I’ve ever read talks about you and the divide between the conservative movement on two issues; it has to do with immigration and Common Core,” Hannity said.

The crowd exploded into equal parts jeers and cheers….