What makes Finnish kids so smart?

February 29, 2008

Uninfluenced by liberal mantra and childhood institutionalization programs

Governor Napolitano, who has never seen an educational spending program she hasn’t endorsed, should read this Wall Street Journal article. Although Napolitano has been steadfast in her opposition to school vouchers, which provide parents expanded choice in the education of their children, she has advocated “early childhood education,” placing our youngest and most impressionable in government schools at younger ages with all-day kindergarten. Finnish children don’t start school until age 7.

The Goldwater Institute published a study which demonstrates that early childhood education expansion is an expensive reform that delivers only transitory benefits. School choice uses resources more efficiently and delivers improved academic achievement.

Yet without such government mandates and expenditures (by Napolitano’s own accounting, Arizona has dropped $100 million into education during the past year and received $12 million in federal funds) Finland’s teens score extraordinarily high on an international test, far surpassing American counterparts.

High school students rarely get more than a half-hour of homework a night. They have no school uniforms, no honor societies, no valedictorians, no tardy bells and no classes for the gifted. There is little standardized testing and few parents agonize over college.

Yet by one international measure, Finnish teenagers are among the smartest in the world. They earned some of the top scores by 15-year-old students who were tested in 57 countries. American teens finished among the world’s C students even as U.S. educators piled on more homework, standards and rules. Finnish youth, like their U.S. counterparts, also waste hours online. They dye their hair, love sarcasm and listen to rap and heavy metal. But by ninth grade they’re way ahead in math, science and reading—on track to keeping Finns among the world’s most productive workers.

Finland separates students for the last three years of high school based on grades; 53% go to high school and the rest enter vocational school. Finland has a high-school dropout rate of about 4%—10% at vocational schools—compared with roughly 25% in the U.S. College is free.

While it is true that the largely homogeneous population includes few students who don’t speak Finnish, children of previous generations of immigrants to the U.S. excelled without costly and contentious ESL mandates.

It can be done, Governor.


Mexico has a border patrol?

February 29, 2008

   illegals_crossing_border_future_dems.jpg

More like assistance for lawbreakers

The daily treats us once again to a front page, above-the-fold article on its favored topic: Illegal aliens and their plight.

At first blush, the article appears to convey the message that Mexico has actual border patrol agents, called Grupos Beta, who work in concert with U.S. agents to obstruct the deluge of lawbreakers coming across the southern border. 

The initial clue that something is amiss is when they quote Robin Hoover, who runs the Tucson-based Humane Borders, which places water and food stations in the desert to assist the illegal entries.

Then we read there are five agents patrolling the 90 miles of border abutting Yuma County. When they encounter “would-be immigrants,” they hand them cartoon-style guidebooks, giving advice on how to survive in the desert… “ According to the daily, Beta agents hand out water, food and clothing for those who continue north.

The pamphlets and tactics have enraged immigration-control groups in the United States, who accuse the Mexican government of encouraging illegal border crossings. But, writes the reporter, there is little else the Beta agents can do: It’s not illegal in Mexico to cross the border, just as it is not illegal for U.S. citizens to cross into Mexico, so they cannot arrest crossers.

Omitted from this blasé account is the fact that American citizens do not sneak into Mexico, undercut wages of Mexican nationals, march through Mexican cities waving American flags, declare they are reclaiming their homeland, and stay permanently, without obtaining necessary governmental documents.

One plus was the inclusion of this this interesting fact in the sidebar to the article: There was a 70 percent drop in 2007 from 2006 in the number of people spotted trying to cross into the United States in the 90 miles of border across from Arizona’s Yuma County, Grupos Beta agents in that area say.

That decline coincides with the erection of a border fence and increased enforcement near Yuma, where the U.S. Border Patrol reports an equivalent decline in illegal-immigrant arrests.

Proof that border fences actually work.


Time magazine covers AZ congressman

February 29, 2008

The House Ethics Committee has begun an investigation into the conduct of three-term CD 1 Rep. Rick Renzi, 49, recently indicted on conspiracy, extortion and other charges.

Renzi could face censure or, in the worst case, expulsion, which would require a two-thirds vote of his congressional colleagues.

Renzi, who announced last year that he would not seek re-election, has denied wrongdoing. He has resisted suggestions that he resign.


“We are all children of God”

February 29, 2008

Some of us just choose not to obey the law

The Catholic Sun has jumped on the liberal, sob-story, illegal immigrantion bandwagon.

In describing illegal alien parishioners who are feeling the effects of Arizona’s employer sanctions law and contemplating moving out of the valley, Father Peter Liuzzi, the pastor at St. Agnes Parish said, “Laws need to respect the higher, natural law of the right to immigrate,” he said. “That’s Catholic teaching.”

Father Liuzzi appears not to respect the sovereignty of the nation in which he lives.

Abortion is legal, and presumably the priest would prefer that not be so. Yet, it is doubtful he would advocate harm to the clinics and abortionists. Laws must be respected. If we want them changed, there are legal and honorable means to work within the system to effect such changes.

His statement is stunningly unconscionable in view of the fact that all countries have borders, laws which must be obeyed and national sovereignty. Laws regarding legal immigration are central to an orderly flow of those who desire to acclimate to a new land and apply for citizenship as part of a lawful process.

President Ronald Reagan warned us, “A nation without borders is not a nation.” Is this what the parish priest advocates?

Father Liuzzi knows very well that in order to visit the church’s fenced Diocesan offices in downtown Phoenix, a visitor must be buzzed through security monitors at the reception desk, where the receptionist sits behind a wall and speaks through a glass partition.. Only after registering and giving pertinent information regarding the make and license of their car, can the visitor be given access–and then only with the agreement of the person to be visited. Such security is both reasonable and appropriate in today’s world.

Does Father Liuzzi regard security measures at the Diocesan office as limiting freedom of movement? Does he have a lock on his own door?

Father Andrew McNair, writing for the National Catholic Register refutes Father Liuzzi‘s contention, “ Contrary to popular belief, the Catholic Church, as a matter of public policy, does not support open borders or illegal immigration. The solution to illegal immigration is clear: Encourage people to obey the law by enforcing the law. The right to immigrate is not absolute.” (Catechism No. 2241)


Federal Appeals Court refuses to block AZ employer sanctions

February 29, 2008

Prosecutors are free to file complaints for violations of the state’s employer sanctions law, as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied requests Thursday for emergency injunctions to block the law.

The law has been in effect since January 1, but the county attorneys who are charged with enforcing the law have said they couldn’t bring any prosecutions until March 1 at the earliest.

Read the complete coverage here.


Former superintendent of Creighton Elementary District runs for county post

February 28, 2008

Educator Don Covey, 69, has filed a statement of organization, announcing his plans to run for Maricopa County Superintendent of Schools.

Covey, a Republican, hopes to replace Sandra Dowling, the current and embattled county schools superintendent, who has had to cede the reins on her position amid unfavorable publicity.


Not another one

February 28, 2008

Already crowded field grows

She’s back.


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