The Motley Monk has posted a commentary over at The American Catholic titled "A decades' long struggle: Catholic identity and the University of Notre Dame..."

In that post, The Motley Monk 
juxtaposes the effusive praise the University of Notre Dame's Board of Trustees heaped upon the institution's President after re-electing him to office to a recently-published opinion piece concerning the morality of UND’s conduct under Fr. Jenkins’ leadership in extending spousal benefits to those recognized as married by civil law (e.g., health insurance and student housing to same-sex employees and students).


Check it out...



To access The Motley Monk's post at The American Catholic, click on the following link:
http://the-american-catholic.com/2015/02/26/a-decades-long-struggle-catholic-

identity-and-the-university-of-notre-dame/
 
 
FACT: The United States has a higher percentage of single-parent families the 27 other economically developed nations.

Historically, how have the public school teachers’ union bosses, their minions in city halls and state departments of education, as well as in the media respond to that fact?
  • “Ho hum. Pass the salt. This too shall pass.”
  • “That’s how it just is. The times, they are a changin.”
  • “What’s newsworthy about that?”
  • “Wanna set up a tee time?”

A study of student achievement differences across the 28 OECD nations discovered that, on average, 13.7% of the 15-year-old students in those nations lived in single-parent families. In the United States, the figure was 20.7%, roughly matching Hungary, where 20.8%. With single-parent homes tending to have fewer resources—including parental time—to devote to their children, what’s the impact upon those students’ academic achievement?

According to the study:
  • Children of single-parent families score lower than students in two-parent families, on average scoring 18% worse.
  • In the United States, the difference the average achievement difference in math between children of single- and two- parent families is 26.6%, the rough equivalent of 1 grade level. (And that’s to say nothing about all of those studies which have found that children of U.S. single parents face greater emotional distress and, thus, have lower overall educational attainment.)
  • Interestingly, Mexican children didn’t perform differently based on family structure. The difference for Portuguese children wasn’t statistically significant. Otherwise, all achievement differences based on family structure in all of the other OECD nations were statistically significant, meaning that the findings about U.S. children are not due to chance alone.
  • Adjusting the data for student background to determine whether socioeconomic background, parent education levels, immigration status, or family language could be impacting achievement, the disparity between single- and two- parent children's scores decreased 50%. In the United States, the difference dropped even more from 27% to 10%, identifying socioeconomic background as the single, most significant factor explaining the achievement gap.

The “take-away”?
  • Children of single-parent families in the United States are likely to exhibit lower achievement scores on standardized tests.
  • Children of socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds are likely to exhibit lower achievement scores on standardized tests.
  • Children of single-parent families that are socioeconomically disadvantaged are most likely to exhibit lower achievement scores on standardized tests.

Now, consider where some of the worst public schools in the United States are located: Urban socioeconomically disadvantaged locales where the nuclear family has been under assault for the past 5+ decades.

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist to connect the dots.
  • Forget state re-accreditation site visits by so-called education experts.” What have they done to improve these schools over the past 5+ decades?
  • Forget teacher education program and state certification. How has all of that training improved educational outcomes for the students in these schools over the past 5+ decades?
  • Forget pouring more money into those schools. How has doing so for the past 5+ decades improved student achievement?
  • Forget the state education apparatus. How has that structure meaningfully improved education for those disadvantaged students for the past 5+ decades?

Give those children vouchers or education savings accounts to attend a school of choice, including charter, single-sex, and special purpose schools for students with special needs. Let those schools compete for enrollment. And, require all of those schools to produce demonstrable results on standardized achievement tests if they are to be eligible to bank vouchers. In short, turn those locales into educational enterprise zones and free up the creative, entrepreurial spirit on those part of those who really care about those students to provide for their educational needs.

The trouble is that the public school teachers’ union bosses, their minions in city halls and state departments of education, as well as in the media across the United States steadfastly refuse to connect the dots. Why? That would cost jobs and, thus, union dues. Then, how would those union bosses be able to afford their lavish suburban lifestyles and country club dues?

The data are there and have been there for a very long time. It’s time to ask: Who do those public school teachers’ union bosses, their minions in city halls and state departments of education, as well as in the media  really care about? Themselves or those children? Don’t they deserve better than the “dregs falling from the table” they’re mandated by the states to survive on?

This is a matter of social justice, isn’t it?


Let the discussion begin…




To read the study, click on the following link:
Single-Parent Families and Student Achievement: An International Perspective.”

 
 
When those who worship at the altar of environmentalism are correct, that fact should be duly noted.

     FACT: Carbon emissions (CO2) are rising. That fact care of the Director

     of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, Bjorn Lomborg, in a recent Wall
     Street Journal article.

So, the stormy petrels are correct on that account. Duly noted by The Motley Monk.

But, those who worship at the altar of environmentalism aren’t correct when they take that fact and run with it to proffer their speculations about what that fact means and tout those speculations as truth. As Lomborg notes:
  • The climate models used by those who worship at the altar of environmentalism predicted an 0.8°F rise in temperature over the past 15 years. The fact: The temperature rose just 0.09°F, 90% less than the stormy petrils blared.
  • Antarctic sea ice is increasing not decreasing, as predicted by the models used by those who worship at the altar of environmentalism.
  • For decades, sea levels have risen. But, not at those faster rates as predicted by the models used those who worship at the altar of environmentalism. The fact: Two recent studies indicate that the rate of sea level rise has dropped.
  • According to a March 2014 study, the amount of the world's surface that has faced drought since 1982 has decreased not increased, as predicted by the models used by those who worship at the altar of environmentalism.
  • Yes, damage costs from hurricanes have increased in the United States, but only because more people with more expensive property are living near coastlines. Adjusting for those factors, damage from hurricanes between 1900 and 2013 decreased slightly. This decrease despite the increase in property values during those 113 years.
  • Since 1950, the number of typhoons making land has decreased. Inexplicably, those who worship at the altar of environmentalism are calling for increased CO2 emissions to reduce typhoons.
  • Since 1900, deaths attributable to natural disasters have dropped by 907%. Why do the stormy petrels continually describe the magnitude of such deaths--unfortunate as each death is--as increasing?

In each instance, the stormy petrels have been flat-out wrong. The facts simply aren’t on their side. Yet, they continue to persist in their protests against the dangers of CO2 emissions. So loudly, in fact, they’re forcing their expensive and ineffective agenda to fight CO2 emissions upon the nation through the federal government’s regulatory powers.

It’s all based upon a willful distortion of facts. Once again, and quite unfortunately, being deceptive seems to matter little to those who worship at the altar of environmentalism.


Let the discussion begin…




To read Bjorn Lomborg’s Wall Street Journal article, click on the following link:
"The Alarming Thing About Climate Alarmism."

 
 
Want to improve public education?

The response of the public school teachers' union bosses hasn't changed for more than one century: "We need more $$$s."

Well, in fact, state and local costs for public education in the United States in 2012 were $869.2B. And that figure excludes the federal $$$s paid to state and local governments for schools.

So, what's the "bang" for all of those bucks?

The folks over a WalletHub have an answer, having compiled a list of 90 of the nation's cities with the most and least efficient spending on education. They compared standardized test scores for students in 4th-8th grades with per capita spending, then adjusted for socioeconomic factors.

Which cities get the best return on their educational investment?
  • Miami, Florida, had the highest return on investment score. Its test scores ranked 47th out of 90, but its per capita education expenditures were the 8th lowest.
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan, was second. Its  test scores took 10th place but its education expenditures were 9th lowest.
  • Corpus Christi, Texas, had the highest standardized test scores. However, it ranked 41st for per capita student spending, ranking it 11th for its return on investment.

The cities get worst return on their educational investment?
  • Although San Francisco had the lowest per capita spending ($980/student) and its test scores ranked 71st. Overall: 51st for return on investment.
  • Buffalo, New York, spent the most per student ($3,409). Its high spending combined with poor test scores (70th) ranked Buffalo 87th for return on investment.
  • Rochester, New York, had the worst standardized test scores and the 2nd highest per capita spending ($3,176).

Always remember: There's no such thing as a "free" public education. In fact, public education in 90 of the nation's cities costs taxpayers big time, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau finance data.

Even though state and local governments are operating on tighter budgets, real spending per student has real spending per student has increased 90% during the past 3 decades (100% during the past 5 decades) while student achievement has remained unchanged.

More $$$s invested has not delivered, does not deliver, and will not deliver on the public school teachers' union bosses promises.


Let the discussion begin...




To examine the WalletHub data, click on thefollowing link:
"2015's Cities with the Most & Least Efficient Spending on Education."

 
 
For more than one century, it’s been no secret that undergraduate teacher education programs generally produce novice teachers who are ill-equipped to meet the many pedagogical challenges confronting them in real classrooms.

People making this observation, called “critics,” oftentimes cite as evidence student achievement on standardized tests as well as the apparent ease with which teacher education majors graduate.

If one was to believe the critics’ critics, however, they just don’t know what they’re talking about. The problem isn’t the quality of teacher education programs, curricula, professors, or undergraduates. "We're working on that," they say. No, it’s the nature of the public school system. Federal and state regulations make it impossible even for the best teachers to teach. On top of that, school boards and administrators thwart teachers’ best efforts. And, that’s to say nothing about absentee or overinvolved parents and their miscreant children who create bad schools.

While some or all of that may be true, taken to their logical conclusion, the critics’ critics’ schools would be empty, except for all of those allegedly highly-trained and highly-qualified teachers.

Unfortunately, the National Council on Teacher Quality has found that the critics are correct. In "Easy A’s and What’s Behind Them," data gathered from more than 500 teacher education programs indicates that teacher education students are graduating with honors almost 50% more often than all undergraduate students.

Whoa! Knowing already that teacher education majors have one of the lowest overall gpa’s when they were first admitted to college, we now know that teacher education students are not being held to equally high standards as students in other majors. Worse yet, their coursework is not being graded and evaluated with equal rigor.

Examining the gpa’s of the graduates of those teacher education programs, one would be led to concluded falsely that, as a group, they’re a bunch of Einsteins.

But, they’re not. And not only that, they’re not prepared to succeed in the nation’s public school classrooms, despite what all of those academic honors and high gpa’s indicate.

As bad as that is, consider what that ultimately means for the students in the classrooms of those teachers.

The Motley Monk can hear the stormy petrels already: “Take a deep breath. Relax. This too will pass, as it always has.”

Yesiree, it won’t be long before the public school teachers’ union bosses and their minions populating many of those undergraduate teacher education programs—those so-called “professors of education”—along with their state department of education cronies will be discrediting the NCTQ study:
  • It overlooks all of those bright, highly-qualified, and wonderful teacher education graduates who are distinguishing themselves in the nation’s public schools. Focus upon them not the failures.
  • The report is yet another study that’s riddled with methodological and analytical problems. The findings are meaningless.
  • It’s a hit job on the part of radical conservatives who want to dismantle and then destroy the nation’s public school system. Vouchers. Charter schools. And now they’re taking aim once again at undergraduate teacher education.

Fine. Keep touting the same, tired, and worn-out mantras in the mainstream media. Eventually, people will figure out:
  • there’s no conservative war on women;
  • conservatives aren’t any more or less inclusive than liberals;
  • wealthy liberals protect their wealth just as much as wealthy conservatives do, even though the former are more stingy when it comes to charitable contributions than the latter are; and,
  • conservatives—just as much as liberals—want to protect the biosphere. 

When it comes to teacher education, the NCTQ study identifies a simple fact: Many undergraduate teacher education programs should be awarded a grade of “D” if not “F.” But, since they oftentimes grade their own when it comes time for those re-accrediting those programs, the lowest grade they receive is a “B,” with most receiving an “A.”

For what? Sending graduates with high gpa’s who are incapable of educating children into the nation’s public schools? 

Everyone wants qualified teachers in every classroom. The problem is that a sufficient number of those kind of teachers aren’t selecting teacher education as a major. For most of those who do, they aren’t equally qualified as their peers in other majors. And, for the few of those who are, their “training” for the most part is second-rate.

It’s time to jettison those costly programs of crony socialism and turn teacher education into a for-profit business. Evidence indicates that students in the nation’s public schools deserve better than what they
re getting.


Let the discussion begin…




To read the NCTQ study, click on the following link:
http://www.nctq.org/dmsStage/EasyAs 

 
 
With a recent Pew study finding that only 26% of Millennials are getting married, what’s the current state of marriage in the United States?
The folks over at the Heritage Foundation have cobbled together some vital statistics about the state of marriage in the United States in 2014 that provide some answers to the question:
  • Today, there are more single Americans than ever before. 50%+ of the adult U.S. population is single. The rate was 37.4% in the 1970s.
  • Unmarried mothers account for 40%+ of all U.S. births.
  • Married men have higher incomes than their unmarried men. The drop in the rate of marriage accounts for 32% of the rise in family income inequality since 1979.
  • Children in single-parent homes are 500% more likely to live in poverty compared to their peers in 2-parent homes.

Education and marriage appear to be linked:
  • Among mothers without a high school diploma, 63% of births are outside of marriage.
  • For women with a college education, 71% of births are to married women. 

What might these statistics suggest about the social fabric of the United States as the Millennials age? The Motley Monk would suggest:
  • With more single Americans than ever before and with that number increasing, there will likely be more unmarried men having lower incomes than their fewer in number married peers.
  • With the number of unmarried mothers growing, an increasing number of children will be born out outside of marriage.
  • With the number of mothers without a high school diploma growing, more children will likely be living in poverty.

However, contrary to what these statistics might appear to suggest, 67% of Americans believe that marriage is not an outdated social institution. For many Millennials, it seems they've decided that marriage is just not for them, and for a variety of good and bad reasons.



What might those be?


Let the discussion begin...




To read the Pew study, click on the following link:
http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/03/07/millennials-in-adulthood/

To read the Heritage Foundation report, click on the following link:
http://index.heritage.org/culture/ 

 
 
Remember back at the State of the Union address when President Obama proposed 2 years of "free" college (read: "community college") for students who enroll at least part time and maintain a GPA of 2.5?

Knowing there is no such thing as a free lunch, it ends up that the federal government (meaning the 43% of those who pay federal taxes) would pay 75% toward this "investment." The states would pay the other 25% of this investment (meaning those who pay state taxes).

Writing over at Forbes.com, the Director of the Center on Higher Education Reform at the American Enterprise Institute, Andrew P. Kelly, states that taxpayers should be skeptical:
  • Yes, free tuition might boost enrollment. But, that provides no guanantee that graduation rates will improve. A simple fact: Only 31% of full-time, first time community college students graduate within 3 years.
  • Lower tuition costs do not translate into student success. For example, California's community colleges have the lowest tuition in the country (and higher completion rates than the national average). Yet, Wisconsin and North Dakota's community colleges have higher graduation rates, despite tuition costs that are 200% and 300% that of California's community colleges.
  • The President has called for community colleges to implement reforms. But, if the federal government's ability to reform K-12 education--through the U.S. Department of Educatoin--provides any indication of how well those reforms will proceed, what's the likelihood of the federal government success in reforming community colleges?
  • Whenever the federal government pays for education, costs don't go down. In fact, tuition costs increase annually, once again putting that 43% of those Americans who pay federal taxes on the hook for that "2 years of free college."

The dirty little secret is that the President's proposal for "free" college is built upon the notion that such a thing as a "free" public education exists. There never has been, there currently isn't, and it's quite likely there never will be any such animal. Someone has to pay and it's those who pay the taxes.

What the President is proposing is nothing but a sop to the public education teachers' unions bosses. It's not about education but jobs and dues. Those union bosses want to keep those community colleges classrooms staffed with dues-paying teachers and filled with "free" students, courtesy of those who pay the taxes and don't have sufficient gumption to tell their elected leaders "Enough's enough! No more free lunches."


Let the discussion begin...




To read Andrew P. Kelly's article in Forbes.com, click on the following link:
"Four Reasons To Be Skeptical About Obama's Free Community College Proposal."

 
 
Using Bureau of Labor Statistics, the folks over at 24/7 Wall Street.com have identified the top-10 occupations where the the median weekly full-time earnings among women was the smallest as a percent of men's earnings:

       
           Job


10. Driver/sales
      workers and 
      truck drivers

 9. Real estate 
     brokers and
     sales agents

 8. Bartenders

 7. Human
     resource
     managers

 6. Retail
     salespersons

 5. Top
     executives

 4. Financial
     managers

 3. Securities,
     commodities,
     and financial
     service sales
     agents

 2. Physicians
     and surgeons

 1. Personal
     financial
     advisors


Men's median
weekly earnings


$739



$991



$634


$1,827



$698

$2,246


$1,671




$1,356



$2,002



$1,637


Women's median weekly earnings

$545



$726



$459


$1,300



$491

$1,572


$1,127




$883



$1,246



$1,004


Women's %'age of men's earnings

73.7%



73.7%



72.4%


71.2%



70.3%

70.0%


67.4%




65.1%



62.2%



61.3%




Scrutinizing this list, one might mistakenly conclude--as the stormy petrels are sure to do and then to assert their mistaken conclusion in the mainstream media--that there's greater pay inequality between women and men in the United States than there really is.

That false "take away" would be due to the fact that the list identifies the top-10 occupations where the median weekly full-time earnings among women was the smallest as a percent of men's earningsAs the folks over at 24/7 Wall St.com were very careful to point out, a full-time female employee in 2014 earned 82.5% of what a male employee earned. Unacceptable as that difference is, that's considerably higher than in 1979, when a full-time female employee was paid an estimated 62% of what a male employee was paid. More importantly, the simple fact is that in many of the largest occupations in the country, women earn close to what men do on a weekly basis.

That said, progress in closing pay inequality between females and males slowed between 2000 and 2014. While one can speculate about why that is the case, all of that speculation is meaningless in the sense that there should be 0% disparity in pay for women and men in the same occupation, performing the same work, and working the same number and type of hours.

The Motley Monk would speculate that some of the current disparity in pay between women and men is that the number and type of hours differ, for example, women are working more part-time hours and men are working more full-time hours.


Let the discussion begin...




To read the 24/7 Wall St.com article, click on the following link:
http://247wallst.com/special-report/2015/02/19/the-worst-paying-jobs-for-women/1/

 
 
White House spinmeisters have been touting the 11.4M healthcare insurance sign-ups in the Obamacare exchanges. It sure makes the progam appear more successful this second "go around."

The problem is that those spinmeisters are doing what they're highly paid to do--"spin"--and are hopeful that no one will drill down to discover what the facts really are.

Well, the folks over at the Manhattan Institute drilled down into the numbers and published their findings at Forbes.com. What they found was that the 11.4M figure is not only misleading but also obscures the number of previously uninsured individuals who now have healthcare insurance.

The facts:
  • "Signing up" for Obamacare doesn't mean "enrolling" in Obamacare. In 2014, the spinmeisters hailed the 8M who signed up for the Obamacare exchanges. But, when the enrollment period ended, only 6.7M (84%) were enrolled. So, let's say that the more realistic figure for 2015 is more like 9.5M, not 11.4M. Yes, that looks like growth but not of the magnitude the spinmeisters would like people to believe.
  • Signing 11.4M people up for healthcare insurance is not the same as signing up 11.4M previously uninsured people for healthcare insurance. Why? Many of those who enrolled in the Obamacare exchanges already had private health insurance prior to the Affordable Care Act. To wit:
    * In 2013, at least 4.7M people had their insurance policies canceled due
      to Obamacare.
    * In 2014, 3.8 million (57%) of Obamacare exchange enrollees were
      previously uninsured.
    * Combining these 57% with the expectation that 84% of the 11.4 million
      sign-ups will not pay their premiums in 2015, only 5.4M previously
      uninsured individuals will be enrolled in Obamacare by the end of the year.

The conclusion to be drawn from the Manhattan Institute study?

The spinmeisters are being artfully deceptive, intentionally misleading people to believe that 11.4M people have signed up for Obamacare. The more realistic number is 5.4M.

Thank goodness someone is drilling down the numbers regarding Obamacare. But, come to think about it, what about the other 24.6M people who the pro-Obamacare spinmeisters said in 2009 were uninsured and would be covered by Obamacare?


Let the discussion begin...




To read the article at Forbes.com, click on the following link:
"Contra White House, Obamacare Exchanges Enroll Approx. 5 Million Uninsured, Not 11.4 Million."

 
 
This is a pretty good idea for peeling hard boiled eggs:
But, there's an easier way using the same technique:
  1. Place the hardboiled egg into an 8 ounce glass.
  2. Put a little water into a glass.
  3. Use you hand as the cover.
  4. Shake the glass until the shell separates from the egg.

Toss the shell into the garbage. Rinse out the glass and dry it.

Why mess around with pots and pans?


Let the discussion begin...