Blog Posts by Liz Goodwin

  • Cash-strapped states consider virtual classes, despite lack of research

    AP070321020219In Florida and Utah, education officials have embraced the controversial cost-cutting measure of putting students in digital classrooms.

    The move has caused anxiety among teachers and some parents, who are quite reasonably skeptical that a laptop  can really replace a teacher. At a recent hearing over Idaho superintendent Tom Luna's plan to require two online courses per year for high schoolers, participant Pat Bollar said the classes would "demean" teachers.  Sherri Wood, the president of Idaho's teachers union, told Citydesk, "I don't see how giving a computer to a child can be better than the one-on-one attention that so many of them need."

    And indeed, the specter of an all-digital education invites the image of a classroom full of latchkey students staring into glowing monitors full of pages and pages of teeny text they are expected to read and understand without any outside help. (A largely unsupervised classroom could also readily degenerate into a "Lord of the Flies"-style of anarchy, with kids ignoring their computer-mandated lessons in favor of general mayhem. If that scenario sounds implausible, well, just talk to a substitute teacher sometime.)

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  • GOP wants return to workplace immigration raids

    AP061215043995GOP Congressmen are calling on President Obama to return to large-scale workplace raids to round up and deport illegal immigrants--even though the Obama administration conducted a record number of deportations last year.

    The new chair of a congressional immigration subcommittee, Rep. Elton Gallegly, said the lack of worker deportations are represents a "grave disservice to American workers," reports to the Ventura County Star.

    The Obama White House has deported more illegal immigrants in one fiscal year than any other presidency has in recent history, even resorting to unorthodox tactics in the rush to beat their deportation record. The administration's focus, however, has been on deporting people with criminal records or people who have been arrested for any crime.

    Workplace raids have dropped 70 percent since President George W. Bush's last two years in office, and the Obama administration says it prefers to concentrate on punishing employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants instead of the workers themselves via investigations and fines.

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  • College freshmen are little balls of stress

    200291325-001College freshmen say they are anxious, overwhelmed and extremely ambitious, according to a UCLA national survey.

    About 55 percent said their emotional health was "above average," the lowest percentage since 1985 when the survey was first given.

    Anxiety edged out depression for the number one emotional-health related issue listed by the freshmen, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. This may because more and more freshmen are saying they are extremely driven to succeed.

    More than three-quarters of respondents said their ambition to succeed was above average, or in the top 10 percent of their peers.

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  • FIRST LOOK: Ohio mom jailed for faking address to send kids to better school

    Welcome to First Look, our daily roundup of early-bird news:

    • An Ohio mom was jailed for faking an address to send her kids to a better school. (Beacon Journal)

    • An American consular employee shot and killed two men who tried to rob him in Pakistan. He's in police custody. (AP)

    • Obama is expected to wade into the gun-control debate soon. (Washington Post)

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  • Lawmakers want to fight health-care law with ‘nullification’ argument

    AP03050807123The ghost of John C. Calhoun must be proud.

    The AP reports that Republican lawmakers in Idaho, Alabama, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming are talking about nullification measures--arising from the principle that individual states can reject federal laws they view as unfounded--as a way to battle the new health-care law.

    The 18th-century doctrine hasn't had a great success rate when politicians have invoked it in the past.

    Calhoun, as vice president, fought passionately in the 1820s and 30s for South Carolina's right to declare certain federal laws unconstitutional and thus ignore them. He based the right on writings by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, none of which were actually included in the Constitution. (Though "states rights" proponents also point to the 10th Amendment--which reserves all powers not enumerated as belonging to the federal government as belonging to the states as justification.)

    South Carolina voted to nullify the federal tariff, which state leaders viewed as a burden on its agricultural export, after Calhoun resigned the vice presidency, but revoked the nullification after they renegotiated the terms of the tariff with the federal government in the 1830s. Andrew Jackson also threatened to use force against the state if it didn't fall into line.

    The conflict set the stage for secession and the Civil War. Northern states invoked "states rights" defenses to fend off pro-slavery laws that required runaway slaves to be returned to their owners. (The Supreme Court ruled the Northern states were violating federal law, but they continued to resist.) But when President Abraham Lincoln was elected the tables turned and Southern states began to use the argument again.

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  • Sources: Loughner researched lethal injections, assassins

    This doesn't look good for putting together an insanity defense for accused Tucson shooter Jared Loughner. Unnamed law enforcement sources tell The Washington Post that Loughner researched lethal injections, solitary confinement, and other famous assassins on his computer before he allegedly shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others.

    "The impression investigators have is that he was trying to educate himself on assassinations and also research the consequences," one source told the Post.

  • Justice Scalia is a barrel of laughs

    AP070110024869A second study has confirmed that Justice Antonin Scalia is the funniest judge on the Supreme Court, writes The New York Times' Adam Liptak.

    Liptak pokes a little fun at the study's author, Ryan Malphurs, for his very serious update to a light-hearted 2005 study that calculated the justices whose comments provoked the most laughter based on transcripts of their hearings. Malphurs says that study was flawed, because there are many different types of laughter, and he tried to categorize them in his updated study in The Communication Law Review.

    Justice Clarence Thomas, who famously rarely asks questions, provoked the least laughter. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Samuel Alito were judged the least funny justices who speak at hearings. Stephen Breyer and John Roberts are in second and third place in funniness, respectively.

    Liptak notes there are key differences in style:

    Chief Justice Roberts has a light, witty touch, while the laughter that follows a long hypothetical question from Justice Breyer can feel like an expression of relief. Justice Scalia, by contrast, will repeat jokes mercilessly, raising questions about whether he has artificially increased his laugh count.

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  • Innovators are getting older, working fewer years

    AP07051509574Last night, President Obama said American has to "out-innovate" the rest of the world, saying, "The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation."

    But the economists Tyler Cowen and Benjamin Jones have both painted a troubling picture of the state of innovation in the country.

    Cowen, in his new book "The Great Stagnation," points to work that shows that 80 percent of America's economic growth from 1950 to 1993 came from the application of ideas that had been invented or discovered before that time, and heavy investment in research and education. "In other words, we've been riding off the past," he writes.

    (The tech entrepreneur and PayPal founder Peter Thiel also theorizes that the pace of technological innovation has been overstated.)

    Mike Gibson at A Thousand Nations blog breaks down some fascinating research by Benjamin Jones at Northwestern University that may explain some of this lag: Innovators are getting old. The average age of Nobel laureates and tech

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  • FIRST LOOK: Will Obama’s spending freeze create jobs?

    Welcome to First Look, our daily roundup of early-bird news:

    • Omaha's mayor barely survived a recall effort called by voter's angry over the city's higher taxes. (AP)

    • The home of the man accused of shooting Detroit police caught on fire mysteriously last night. (CNN)

    • A man allegedly traded in his kidnapping victim for an Xbox 360. (Gizmodo)

    • One liberal think tank says Obama's five-year domestic spending freeze will cut 600,000 jobs. (Washington Post)

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  • FIRST LOOK: Wave of violence strikes police officers

    Welcome to First Look, our daily roundup of early-bird news:

    • Military investigators have been unable to link Private Bradley Manning with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. (MSNBC)

    • Justice Scalia under fire for delivering speech to tea party group. (LA Times)

    • In many states, Medicaid is expanding access to birth control. (Politico)

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