A better way for Bill Gates to fix schools

first_imgCategories: Editorial, OpinionThe following editorial appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune: Bill Gates has been one of the world’s richest people for decades.To build a legacy beyond Microsoft — and to build a better world — in 2000 he and his wife launched the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has spent billions of dollars on numerous good causes. The world’s largest private charity has had some great successes — helping sharply reduce the prevalence of malaria worldwide, for one.But the Gates Foundation’s efforts to improve U.S. public education haven’t gone as well as hoped.Gates even admitted that in remarks last month at an education conference. As a result, he said the foundation is “evolving our education strategy“ as it looks to invest close to $1.7 billion in U.S. public schools over five years. While the Gates Foundation has funded many education initiatives, its biggest splash came with its Common Core campaign, launched in 2009.Forty-two states are in the program, which mandates centralized curriculum standards for student learning in math and language arts in each grades K-12.Test results are used to rate school and teacher effectiveness. But Common Core has come under fire from teachers unions and their political allies because of its emphasis on testing and teacher accountability.And Common Core faces criticism from conservatives because it seeks to require independent-minded states to use standards mandated at the national level.Bipartisan opposition to top-down education policy-making is why Congress scrapped the No Child Left Behind education law in 2015 and shifted school responsibilities back to the states.  Since 1984, the Texas government has passed a series of education reforms that — like those in Massachusetts — set up basic accountability requirements for schools and districts while tracking the performance of four student groups: whites, Hispanics, African-Americans and the economically disadvantaged.A 2015 Urban Institute report ranked Texas behind only Massachusetts and New Jersey in school quality in an evaluation that adjusted for student demographics. Gates seeming to lose faith that Common Core can succeed will be music to the ears of people like Gov. Jerry Brown, who famously rapped the “siren song“ of trendy school reform in 2011.But no critic can explain away the years of comprehensive success seen in Massachusetts and Texas.Whether you live in a red state or a blue state, no one should accept so-so schools.There is a better way. More from The Daily Gazette:Foss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homes These changing political waters suggest that if the Gates Foundation truly wants to advance public education, the last thing it should do is advocate national standards.Instead, it should urge states to copy what has worked in other states.This approach would be much more difficult to criticize than Common Core. In liberal, pro-union states like California, an educational campaign that pointed to how much better the public education system is in liberal, pro-union Massachusetts could build momentum for change.The Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993, crafted with input from teachers, established standardized basic methods to assess the performance of students, teachers, administrators and superintendents and hold them accountable.While Massachusetts has clusters of struggling students in poor minority communities, its public schools are widely seen as America’s best. In conservative, non-union states wary of national dictates, an educational campaign could emphasize how much better the public education system is in conservative, non-union Texas.last_img read more

Kennedy: What does handshake say about a woman?

first_imgI think of that game whenever I’m on the receiving end of a less-than-satisfactory handshake: the health care CEO who shook my hand as if it were delicate porcelain; the female job candidate who seemed intent on breaking a few bones; the college president whose palm was so dry I wanted to pass her some hand cream.The long-running guide on etiquette, now periodically updated by the descendants of manners maven Emily Post, says the handshake dates at least to ancient Egypt and Babylon. The gesture, an open right hand proffered in greeting, is believed to have been used by men to show they carried no weapon.“Today, a handshake is a gesture of friendship and good faith, as when people seal a deal by shaking hands,” says the 19th and latest edition of “Emily Post’s Etiquette.”In 1920s America, when Emily Post first wrote her rules on shaking hands, women were “ladies” and they rarely shook hands when introduced to men; it was acceptable if they did with other ladies, though.Nowadays, women and men alike shake hands, and it’s proper for either to offer their hand first.In fact, a study from the University of Alabama, published in 2000 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, suggested that a firm handshake “may provide an effective initial form of self-promotion for women that does not have the costs associated with other less subtle forms of assertive self-promotion.”The study wanted to see whether it could demonstrate empirically the widely held belief that a person’s handshake reflects his or her personality and influences first impressions about them. Categories: Business, News, Opinion, Schenectady CountyYears ago, when our daughters were young, Husband made a game of teaching them how to shake hands.He’d engage them in a shake, a “How do you do?” and then assess their performance. Of course, as a game, they liked to take it to extremes, becoming giddy in offering a limp, dead-fish handshake. It concluded that a person’s handshake “is related to some aspects of his or her personality,” with a firm handshake found in a person who is more extraverted and open to experience.That was especially true for women, according to the study, and those women made a more favorable impression than women who were less open and had a less firm handshake.“Our results provide one instance in which women who exhibit a behavior — a firm handshake — that is more common for men and that is related to confidence and assertiveness are evaluated more positively than are women who exhibit a more typical feminine handshake,” the study said.In other words, a firm handshake can engender more positive feelings about a woman’s abilities than her promoting herself as a man would, which usually is perceived negatively.Who knew that was the advantage Husband was imparting to our daughters years ago.Marlene Kennedy is a freelance columnist. Opinions expressed in her column are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. Reach her at marlenejkennedy@gmail.com.More from The Daily Gazette:Toys for Tots announces drive-thru collectionsSchenectady High School senior class leaders look to salvage sense of normalcyCar hits garage in Rotterdam Sunday morning; Garage, car burnHigh-risk COVID exposure reported in Clifton ParkSchenectady department heads: Budget cutbacks would further stress already-stretched departmentslast_img read more

What’s bad for GE will be even worse for America

first_imgCategories: Editorial, OpinionThe following editorial appears on Bloomberg View:General Electric’s multi-billion-dollar loss in a unit that sold long-term-care insurance is a blow from which the iconic company is still reeling. But it’s also a harbinger of a much greater challenge for society at large: paying to care for the growing number of Americans who can’t look after themselves.GE’s travails stem from the early 1990s, when insurance companies began developing a new line of business, offering policies that, in return for regular premium payments, would cover the cost of a nursing home or other long-term care if the need arose. With the baby-boom generation approaching retirement, sales took off. By 2007, some 7 million policies were in force, generating almost $10 billion a year in premiums.RELATED: How bad bet on power put spotlight on GE’s murky accountingThe insurers miscalculated. Claimants lived longer than expected — perhaps because people prudent enough to buy the insurance were more careful about staying healthy. But longer lives meant more people needing long-term care. Medical costs rose, and investment returns fell short. To cover their obligations, companies had to increase premiums (as far as regulators allowed) and, like GE, take big charges against earnings. Penn Treaty was forced into liquidation, leaving policy holders to rely on meager state guaranty funds. Tempting as it may be to blame regulators, that wouldn’t be fair. True, they could have allowed more premium increases sooner, and they should always demand that companies have ample equity to absorb losses. They’ll need to investigate GE’s accounting. But new insurance products are inherently risky, and companies are bound to make mistakes. Officials shouldn’t be expected to catch risks that actuaries can’t foresee.Rather, the debacle illustrates a troubling truth: Private insurance can’t handle this problem by itself.By 2050, the U.S. will have almost 90 million people ages 65 and over, and more than half will need long-term care at some point. Yet only a sliver of that group can afford the premiums insurers require. As of 2015, private insurance covered less than 10 percent of U.S. spending on long-term care — and the private market has been shrinking.Medicare covers only a short period of care after a person has been hospitalized. That leaves Medicaid, the state-administered program for the poor. But it kicks in only after people have burned through their assets — precisely the outcome that insurance is meant to avoid. The paperwork involved is a protracted ordeal, especially for those with physical and mental impairments, suddenly thrust into poverty.The challenge is to design a safety net that will deliver long-term care when it’s needed — without making people destitute first, yet without burdening taxpayers unduly. This isn’t only a matter of compassion: There’s a strong economic argument as well. The cost of long-term care weighs heavily on the economy, as family members step in to do what the health-care system does not. The lifetime cost to caregivers in forgone wages and other losses has been put at $3 trillion.The scale of the problem is daunting — but the issue isn’t going away.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?last_img read more

Rent reductions loom over London landlords

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West Yorkshire industrial Not so grim up north

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Demand for riverside homes

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How firms can hit a moving target

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The Bar man

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Ruhan homes in on £450m Brum project

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Polished Ilva

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