Aha!! The Real GOTP Health Plan Comes Out:

If you get sick – die quickly.

We know about the part where Medicare gets replaced by a plan where you get a voucher for $6000 to try and buy health private insurance on the open market  for $12,000.

But last night Ron Paul and the enthusiastic audience gave  away the real plan.


“But congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die,” Blitzer asked.

“Yeah,” came the shout from the audience. That affirmative was repeated at least three times. Paul, who has always had a reputation for being a charitable man, disagreed with the idea that sick people should die, but insisted that the answer to the healthcare problem was not a large government.

Sure, Paul is going to try and avoid saying “let him die” but when he says “freedom is about taking your own risks” that’s what he means.  ANd the audience knows it.

Irene open thread

(Is that 2012 or Deep Impact? – promoted by Colorado Pols)

I’m looking forward to see the tea party signs that say “Keep Yer Gov’t Hands Off My Disaster Relief”


Mayor of New York has ordered evacuation.


“We should be like 1900; we should be like 1940, 1950, 1960,” (Ron) Paul said. “I live on the Gulf Coast; we deal with hurricanes all the time. Galveston is in my district.


And we should all ride horses or walk. And chew tobaccy. And order our heroin from the Sears catalogue.

GOTP leadership wants spending cuts to offset any disaster aid.

But, Cantor added, “the federal government does have a role in situations like this. When there’s a disaster there’s an appropriate federal role and we will find the monies. But we’ve had discussions about these things before and those monies will be offset with appropriate savings or cost-cutting elsewhere in order to meet the priority of the federal government’s role in a situation like this.”


Let’s assume S&P is “right”

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Pulpit rock

U.S. debt from 1940 to 2010. Red lines indicate the Debt Held by the Public (net public debt) and black lines indicate the Total Public Debt Outstanding (gross public debt), the difference being that the gross debt includes that held by the federal government itself.

The second panel shows the two debt figures as a percentage of U.S. GDP (dollar value of U.S. economic production for that year). The top panel is deflated so every year is in 2010 dollars.

Source:  United States Government

1945  US debt was more than 125% of GDP. No downgrade.

2011 US debt is less than 100% of GDP. Downgrade.

What’s different?

S&P was recently  embarrassed pretty badly by the collapse of Enron, the collapse of the US secondary mortgage market, and other massive defaults and failures (AIG, Lehman, Bear Stearns, Goldman, etc and etc)

Perhaps S&P believes the US will be more willing to default because in 1945 a little more than 97% of the US debt was held by American investors.  2011 it’s a little less than 50% held by Americans.  

Perhaps S&P views the national mood as having a lack of patriotic commitment to honor our commitments. Or at least less of a commitment than the nation had in 1945.

Perhaps S&P realizes that gov’t gridlock is a bad thing.

S&P Seen Surrendering to Tea Party

S&P officials, shrugging off a $2 trillion calculation error, blamed “uncertainty” in the policymaking process on Aug. 5 when they cut the assessment of the U.S. government’s ability to pay its debt, citing Congress’s failure to agree on as much long-term deficit reduction as the credit-rating company wanted. (Warren) Buffett, the world’s most successful investor, said S&P erred and the U.S. should be rated “quadruple-A.”


Maybe the US gov’t was just more fiscally irresponsible back in the 1940’s. Sure, 1941-1945 we had to fight WWII, but we’ve had to fight the war on terror, including starting in 2003 occupying Iraq and Afghanistan on two seperate fronts.

Maybe..just maybe, this was a political thing.

“Clearly the ratings downgrade was a ‘political decision’ in the sense that the politics explained the timing of this, because the numbers have been irrefutable for a decade,” said Robert Litan, vice president for research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri.


Maybe, in addition to being gridlocked, S&P has come to the logical  conclusion that there are enough  Congressmen that are willing to default or shut the gov’t down, or that believe the way to save anything is to first destroy it.  S&P has indicated if the Boehner/Obama deal had made it, there would not have been a down grade.  But Boehner couldn’t get the jr members of his caucus to go for it.  (I’m surprised his caucus is not trying to replace him for even bringing it up.)

Watch for the  Tea Party ripple effect – how can GM, Ford, Microsoft, Verizon, Exon, WalMart, or any other corporate entity get a “AAA” when the US cannot?  Is the Canadian sovereign debt really safer? Brazil? The British? Any nation in the Euro zone?


We don’t need no stinkin’ FAA

The US currently spends approx $16 billion on the FAA.

Since last week, some of the FAA has been shut down. No need to re=open.

In fact, let the airlines do their own airspace management.

$16 billion saved.

Norway open thread.

That guy is on the list.

at least 87 dead.

A bombing, a shooting,  and who knows what all.

Does Norway have the death penalty?

New Front Page Guest Editor Elections Coming: nominations update

Update – just wanted to put this back in CoPolsters’ minds.

One more chance closer to the weekend- we’ll vote next week.

So you know what to do.


If this election is like previous, we should end up with two front page editors who serve through the end of 2011.

Of course if this election is like previous, someone may try to freep it.  We may get a “third place winner” for no particular reason.  We may elect someone who quits right away.  We  may see comments about how screwey The Big Line is.   We are almost certain to see whining about whomever did or didn’t win.

I nominate RedGreen and amaesinggov.

The Debt Ceiling is Archaic and Useless

“As far as I am aware, no other country on Earth has the idiotic policy that the United States has of having a legal limit on the amount of bonds the central government can issue,” he writes. “They correctly recognize that the deficit and the debt are simply residuals resulting from the government’s tax and spending policies. It makes no sense to treat the debt as if it is an independent variable.”

Bruce Bartlett, Reagan adviser

Congress has all the budget authority it needs (100%) without having a separately defined debt ceiling.  But in the run up to WW1, Congress wanted to facilitate Treasury issuance of the Liberty Bonds (cute name) to finance the preparation for war. So they set a debt ceiling, and gave the Treasury autonomy to issue Liberty Bonds up to the ceiling.  It worked but was never repealed.

But in every budget cycle, every single one, Congress gets to decide whether the debt will go up (deficit) or down (surplus) or stay the same (balanced).  The ceiling isn’t necessary.  

Btw, just in case anyone is stopped here, wondering how Congress gets to make that determination, it’s not that complicated in theory.  Congress looks at projected expenditures and revenues, sets tax rates, and gets what they get.  The projections are usually not 100% correct, but they are usually pretty close.

If Congress wants to make the debt smaller, they need to create  a budget surplus. If they want to keep the debt under the current ceiling, they need to balance the budget (since we’re at the ceiling now).  When the US is this close to the ceiling, and Congress  passes a deficit budget , like they recently did, they have already said they want the ceiling to go up.  

The Treasury (and others involved) are not concerned about the USA”s ability to pay, but our willingness.  If we create even the perception that we are willing to default, or unwilling to keep up, we will pay a high price for that.

Any posturing now about not raising the ceiling, is just political posturing. And normally I wouldn’t care. It’s political hay as spectator sport and doesn’t matter. Usually.  But now it’s dangerous.

But there is a large contingent of newbies and others on the Hill who appear to be serious about not increasing the debt ceiling. I suspect (and sincerely hope) that cooler heads will prevail, but meanwhile for each trading day that the ceiling stays where it is, the uncertainty factor increases.

Uncertainty is expensive for the borrower – US Treasury, i.e., us.

And that;s part of the danger.

The biggest danger, of course, is that the ceiling is not adjusted and results in a US default.

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership.”  Senator Obama,  2006

Philosophically correct, but ultimately political bs.  The Congress passed a 2005 and 2006 budget that were in deficit.  No one was surprised when the debt reached the ceiling.  

Bashing Obama for saying that then, and urgning Congres to get it together now misses the point. Bash away to prove you are not serious about a  solution to the “debt problem.”  Draw your own arbitrary line in the sand and defend to the death of the country.  Or at least the long term negative impact of the country.

If the US defaults- we never have – it will have several immediate and long lasting negative impacts.  At a minimum, borrowing will become more expensive, ie, interest rates will rise.  

The US Treausry issues bonds.  The financial markets define the  interest rate on those bonds as the risk free rate for good historical and socio-political reasons. For appropriate economic  reasons.  But if we default it won’t matter much to the our lenders (anyone who buys those bonds) that it was momentary political posturing, that it was used a political opportunity to force an ideological debate. They will price our default accordingly.  And it will cost us more. For a long, long time.

The idea of a grand showdown on spending had long been a staple of conservative analysis. Even before Reagan’s inaugural, he had been approached by one prominent conservative who urged him to force a showdown over the debt ceiling and simply refuse to sign on to one until the Democratic Congress reined in its spending plans. Reagan rejected this idea with a comment I wish I had understood better at the time.

The conservative activist who told me that story was convinced that Reagan would have won such a showdown. For fifteen years I agreed with him, but I was to learn something about the American people that too many conservatives don’t appreciate. They want their leaders to have principled disagreements but they want these disagreements to be settled in constructive ways. That is not, of course, what our own activists were telling us. They were all gung ho for a brutal fight over spending and taxes. We mistook their enthusiasm for the views of the American public.   Newt Gingrich: Lessons Learned the Hard Way (1998)  

“We mistook their (conservative activists’) enthusiasm for the views of the American public.”

It’s easy now in hindsight to conclude, what a maroon. But the GO(T)P appears to be making the same mistake now.  Raising the debt ceiling is not a failure or one party, nor a victory for the other.  It’s a math equation.

And adult leadership needs to increase the ceiling, have whatever budget battle they want to have and pass the budget for 2012.

Friday Open Thread

Something a little stupid, easily disprovable, inflammatory and which should but inexplicably isn’t embarrassing to Rs.   ~ Rush Limbaugh

Trump Is A Liar, and A National Embarrassment

Just 10 days ago Trump said .he would release his tax returns  if Obama released his birth certificate


In fact, Trump repeated that claim many times.  But now…

Link text

now he says that he is considering releasing information at the “appropriate time.”


Instead. Trump is ramping up his demand for President Obama to release all manner of documents from his life, college “records” first.  I say “records” because you know Trump doesn’t want to see Obama’s grades, he wants to see the applications, and the financial aid statements and etc.

Then it will be other documents.  And then …more documents.  There is no end to what the “carnival barkers” will demand.

I never even thought that President Obama had to born in the US to be a citizen by birth.  But he was, and he is.

It never bothered my that much that President Bush was a poor student who rose to be President.  I’ve known great students I wouldn’t want elected to anything – a student’s academic performance is not always the best indicator of future suitability for elected office.  (It did bother me that Bush was a drunken substance abuser, who was conveniently born again just in time to have a political career.  But mostly I just didn’t agree with Bush’s politics.)

That said, Trump should release his academic records.  How did he get accepted to Wharton? How did he pay for it?   Was his academic performance really enough to get in, or did papa Trump cough up some cash?

While he’s at it, he should ask the same of Pawlenty, Romney, Paul, and Santorum. And then do the same for all the candidates who enter the race.

I do not recall anyone asking to see Presidents’ Bush, Clinton, Bush; Reagan, Ford, or Nixon’s, birth certificate. What is it about President Obama that requires this additional level of scrutiny?  Could it be that Obama is ….from Hawaii?  First Hawaiian president.

Trump says he wants to talk about substantive things now, like oil prices.  We know Trump believes we should take the oil in Libya and Iraq.  He hasn’t actually said it yet, but I suspect he would add Iran and Saudi Arabia to the list.     He’s prepared to go to war all over the world to “take” oil.  

Trump says he wants to talk about China and their trade practices. Ok – start with how and why all the

Trump clothes are made in China.

Trump said the President should Trump  President Obama he should “get off his basketball court ….”  The President golfs too – should he get off the golf course too?

Trump is not a billionaire.  If he was, he’d prove it.  I’m not even convinced he’s ever paid income tax in the US.  I hope he has, I hope he has the tax returns to prove it.

Trump is unfit to hold  office.  Let him run for the House, or city council or something.  But everyone, GO(T)P included, should acknowledge that Trump is a national joke.

Live Blog: Fiscal Solutions Tour, Denver

Fiscal Solutions Tour

While it’s not at all clear to me who is hosting this event, it is taking place near the Auraria Campus, but across Speer in the UCD Lawrence St Center.   And I was invited by Senator Bennet’s office, although clearly there are lotsa politicos involved. And it’s just as clear that the email from the Bennet office was after many other invites had gone out.  I don’t care- just sayin.

No bar, no food, no water.

I’d estimate approx 250 atttendees – panel discussion of 10 to 12 in the room + a skype conference to someplace DC-ish looking.

(It’s the web – it could be a sound stage in the valley)  

WIll the GO(T)P Shutdown The Federal Gov’t Friday?

The so called, proposed GOP 2012-2020 Budget is just a distraction. squirrel!

If we fall for it, the public discussion this week and for the forseeable future will be about Medicare in 2014 and Medicaid in 2016.  Instead of the deficit now. Instead of the GO(T)P gov’t shut down this week. We need a 2011 budget. Yesterday.

We should be talking about why North Africa and the Mid-East is in turmoil. We should be talking about what the hell we’re doing in Iraq. What the end game looks like in Afghanistan. and Libya.

Instead this week, “we” the Right are  going to be talking about how awesome Paul Ryan is, and which aspects of which likely R primary candidate we like or don’t like and how perfect candidate just doesn’t exist. Crickey, Reagan raised taxes, Bush Sr raised taxes.  Goldwater said gay doesn’t is personal and doesn’t matter.  And we don’t talk about that other guy – inventing the EPA and all that bull shit.

Instead this week, “we” the Left are going to be talking about how President Obama has not done enough for his base. How he hasn’t be progressive or liberal enough. How he got screwed on the tax cuts and Iraq and Afghanistan.   How we shouldda got single payer.

The left should be talking about the future. Instead we’re going to be talking about the past.

I’m in.

US Treasury To net $10B + On TARP Sale

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Treasury Department on Monday said it would start selling-off mortgage-backed securities worth an estimated $142 billion, in an effort to close another chapter of the financial crisis.

… secured by state-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, were bought as part of the 2008-2009 financial sector bailout.


The  Treasury is predicting $15-20 billion of profit, though private analysts are predicting $10B is more realistic.

It’s all in the timing.

If the Treasury goes slowly and avoids flooding the market, then $20B is realistic.  If they rush, as some lawmakers are urging the net will be smaller.  

The argument for rushing is being made along party lines.  Though the TARP was largely an R creation, it is the R’s who are now urging speed in selling off assets. It’s math, but simple math.

Meanwhile, back in 08 and again in 09-10 I argued more than once here on CoPols that the bank failure was neither an underwriting crisis nor a result of subprime default rates.  And it wasn’t just hte banks being mean.  It was liquidity crisis, which the banks brought on themselves.

This is more evidence that it was the leveraging strategy of the banks and other investors and speculators in the secondary mortgage market.

A market that some observers, those lacking data, want to claim failed because of FNMA and FHLMC.  Fannie and Freddie had a role, though it was minor,  and now that the secondary market is back on it’s feet, eliminating FNMA and FHLM will have little impact on the primary (retail) mortgage market for the typical consumer.

But the banking reform of last year did not go far enough to reign in the leveraging ability of the secondary market players.  Hundreds of years of data is  clear – a market based system works great for goods and services and works horribly for financial assets.

If we didn’t have fractional reserve banking, nor a liquid global capital market, nor a leveraged economy, nor private property rights I wouldn’t care if the banking industry blew itself up once in awhile.  (30’s, 80’s, 00’s). But because we do have all those things, and a banking led recession is painful for everyone, I do care.

We need to amend the financial regulation to limit the leveraging ability of banks and speculators, to limit the investment banking activity of depository institutions (FDIC insured, aka reimposition of Glass Steagall) and we need to give Elizabeth Warren whatever she wants for the CFPA.

And we need to keep those without data out of the discussion.

I Don’t Trust The Source

Colorado Dept of Public Health and Environment put this out earlier today.  I got it from the County Sheriff’s dept.  I’d have been more inclined to trust the CDPHE

Are there really a significant number of Coloradans panicking about the potential for radiation exposure?


March 16, 2011

FAQs: Japanese Nuclear Power Plant Concerns

Q. What is the impact of the event in Japan on people in the

United States?

A. At this time, there is no indication that materials from the incidents in Japan have the potential to have any significant radiological effect on the United States.

Q. What’s the risk for Colorado from the current nuclear power emergency in Japan?

A. At present, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) says Japan’s nuclear emergency presents no danger to the United States. The NRC is involved in the Japan emergency both at home and in Japan.

Q. What are you doing to assess the risk?

A. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is monitoring the situation closely in conjunction with many state and federal partners. The department will continue to follow the effects of the damaged nuclear power plants as long as there are potential concerns. The department will share verified information through its website and Facebook pages as it becomes available.

Q. Does Colorado have a plan in place to respond to a radiological emergency?

A. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment works closely with the Colorado Division of Emergency Management and other state agencies in all emergencies.

Q. Should I be taking potassium iodide (KI) to protect myself?

A. No. Potassium iodide (KI) tablets are not recommended at this time, and can present a danger to people with allergies to iodine, shellfish or who have thyroid problems. Dosages can vary and should only be taken as advised by a medical professional. Potassium iodide, or KI, may have side effects. The possible side effects are related to the dose that you take and your health condition. Using potassium iodide when it is unnecessary could cause intestinal upset (vomiting, nausea and diarrhea), rashes, allergic reactions, soreness of teeth and gums, and inflammation of the salivary glands. Pregnant women and the developing fetus are particularly sensitive to the health risks of taking potassium iodide because all forms of iodine cross the placenta. For example, newborn infants (less than 1 month old) who receive unnecessary doses of potassium iodide are at particular risk for developing a condition known as hypothyroidism (thyroid hormone levels that are too low). If not treated, hypothyroidism can cause brain damage. Adults older than 40 years have a greater chance of having allergic reactions to potassium iodide. Colorado has no nuclear power plants. If it ever would become necessary for Coloradans to take potassium iodide, the federal government’s Strategic National Stockpile keeps supplies of KI and can deliver emergency equipment and supplies within 12 hours. Potassium iodide may be distributed in other states that have nuclear power plants.

Dear Japan –

Dear Japan –

First, my sincere condolences for your loss and present disaster.  I wish I could help , and if anyone needs a bed and wants to come to Denver, Colorado, USA, I’m glad to put you up.

I have been accused of being rude and classless in a way that could offend you.  That was never my intention.  And I apologize for saying anything that may have had that effect.  I’ll be more careful in the future.

I spent some time at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan many years ago.  I was confronted by Japanese Nationalists who made very clear that they did not want me nor the US military in Japan in any capacity.  

I understand protesters and support their right to protest, even if it means protesting me and the USA.  I also understand that those protesters did not and do not speak for most of Japan.  

That said, in the context of current US military assistance to Japan, a friend observed that now might be a good time for the Japanese Nationalists who have protested our presence so often and so loudly for so long to acknowledge that for now our presence and assistance is  a good thing.  I agreed with him. And in the process offended others who found it rude and classless to even bring it up now.  Due respect, and no disrespect intended to anyone in Japan, but if not now, when?

I consider the USA and Japan to have a special relationship that is valuable to both nations. In fact, valuable to the global community.  That relationship has involved and will continue to involve significant US military presence in Japan.    And I know that the Japanese Nationalists do not speak for most of the Japanese people.   I want the USA to help in whatever way we can.

I don’t know if you follow our political pop culture.  Perhaps you are familiar with Glenn Beck.  He’s a media personality and though I don’t agree with him on many things, I don’t care about that.  I do care that he sensationalizes and hypes the news for ratings and just makes stuff up.  There is also a local radio entertainer in Denver named Dan Caplis. I agree with him about as often but find him also to be full of sensationalizing  and hype.   Recently, they both separately observed that your citizens have not been rioting and looting in the current crisis.    Lest you think this is a compliment, it’s really a slam on those in America who have rioted or looted in disasters here.

It is a compliment to Japan, but not from those two.  It’s a compliment because it speaks to how Japanese people feel about the duties of citizenship.  I think it’s because your people are enmeshed with and bonded to Japan. They feel like they are part of the Japanese  country and community because they are.  Single payer national healthcare. Mass transit for everyone. Income and wealth disparity, sure, but progressive taxation and the average CEO salary as a multiple of the average worker at 11 is far less than the almost 500 x for USA CEOs.

I can see why the residents would feel a part of it.  Here, too many Americans are left out and left behind. Feeling left out and disenfranchised, they see CEO’s and politicians take whatever and whenever they can and they lose sight of how wrong that is and do the same when they can.

Japan, you are a world leader. An exemplary nation and one I admire greatly.  If anything I said offended anyone in Japan, I apologize.

Good luck in your current crisis and your future –




If you run across two liars called HMAN or GOPWarrior, do not believe a ward they say.  They ran out on their debts and obligations here and are not men of their word.

Who has all the money?

real deal


I’ll add to this, but this picture (s) tells a big story.

I believe in equal opportunity.  I accept unequal outcomes.

What I don’t accept is the argument that it’s immoral or wrong to tax income.  I believe in a progressive income tax.  I don’t think the top rate should be 90% +, but I have no aversion to the bottom of the pile paying no income tax.  

We pay sales tax, and social security and medicare and other payroll taxes. We pay registration fees and gas taxes and energy taxes.

I think the census data will allow a similar picture to be done for Colorado.  Or perhaps there is another source.

real deal

To be continued

What Do Conservatives Want?

I saw the Lakoff article on Huffpo from last weekend What Conservatives Really Want

 and then had it emailed to me several times. (Yes – I need to get off so many email lists that tell me what I already know.)

Lakoff, like Luntz, makes a lot of sense when he talks about framing and picks apart the meta-messaging, the suggestive and persuasive power of certain words and phrases.

But I am not sure Lakoff gets the rest correct.  I sent the piece to some self identified conservative friends with the question “Is this what you want?”  and got some interesting replies.

Paraphrasing responses from more than one:

– yes.

– Don’t care about labels or parties. I want what Eisenhower wanted  safe, strong, free.

– Not even close. We want fiscal restraint, low taxes and social tradition.

If I ever did, I do not now know the answer to the question.

Lower taxes? Ok. How low?

“Safe, strong, free” – sounds great. Should we outlaw public sector unions or not?

I’ve asked this question to the self identified, or otherwise easily identifiable, R’s and conservatives here before.  Short of ideological one liners, talking points, liberal and D bashing, and straw men there has been no answer.

What do conservatives want?


a) Which expenses (investments) be publicly funded?

b)  To what level should they be funded?

c) How should we collect the necessary revenue?


What Is the proper role of government ?


Should it be able to require citizens to marry only certain other citizens or stay out of it?

Should it require or disallow particular medical procedures and practices?


If someone would prefer to draft a diary (that is something more illustrative than ideological one liners, talking points, liberal and D bashing, and straw men ) the front page awaits.

At Lest He’s Not your Bought & Paid For Union Busting Governor

The link to the Buffalo Beast is not working – so read about it it on HuffPo.


The R esponse is going to be along the lines of see, the governor is only saying in private what he says in public

But that’s not quite true.

In public he talks about the WI budget impact – and the unions have already agreed to the wage and benefit concessions, so now it’s just about ending collective bargaining.

In public he doesn’t talk about paid protestors or hired “troublemakers.”

In public he doesn’t talk about stopping the directly deposited paychecks of government employees.

In public he doesn’t acknowledge that Breitbart on the scene is a good thing.

In public he doesn’t talk about Wisconsin just being the first step in a succesion of states’ busting unions.  

In public he doesn’t talk about Reagan busting unions being the defining moment of his life.

In public he says he’s not going to talk to anyone.

I Need A New Car

Well, I want a new car….no, I need one…well….  Ok, I can’t tell the difference any more, so let’s just say I’m going to get a car.

What do I get?

And when I say “new” I mean new for me.  I usually much prefer to buy used – cheaper and less painful depreciation.

I know for a lot of drivers, this is pretty easy.  And it has been for me in the past, but not now.

I live in a two car house. Well, one for now.  My 1989 euro trash car finally died.

Some would say it died some time ago, maybe when the trans started slipping. Or perhaps when the rear brakes required a rebuild (the front is where most the brake action comes from.) I decided to wait until the head gasket blew.  350,000 miles (approx- the odometer has been inop for some time)

So what do I need:

reliable, safe, reasonably efficient (I don’t drive a lot) vehicle that can carry 4 sometimes, 3 often.


electric, convertible,

So recently the one working car was in the shop and the loaner was a 2010 Suburban with tow package.  I haven’t driven an American V8 is awhile- and I gotta say that was fun.  That nagging feeling of irresponsibility was assuaged by it being only temporary.  But 14mpg is not practical or exciting.

So, the car I want does not exist.  

There are a few electric cars – Leaf, Volt – but I need a car now, not in 12-18 months.

And none of them are topless.

So I’ve stirring the budget, needs, and wants (which i can’t always distinguish) together, I’ve boiled the choice down to:

– 5 yr old Civic (gasoline or hybrid- doesn’t matter)

– 10 – 12 yr old BMW or Volvo convertible

– something else

thoughts are welcome.


How Should Teachers be Graded?

Yesterday, in a CoPols back and forth about if and how DPS teachers should be evaluated, I said that if DPS was only relying on CSAP scores to evaluate teachers, DPS is missing the point.

Even as I wrote that, I was skeptical.

Turns out DPS leadership has not missed that point, and has not concluded that CSAP scores is the only way to measure teachers.

Teachers should be graded.  Of course, principals and other leadership should be evaluated too. How?

SB191 requires it and defines what that should look like, but does not define how to do it.

Forget the anecdotes – they are not persuasive.  I can recall teachers in my own experience who were so well liked by their students, we would have done anything for them.   And teachers who were so weak that any performance in the class was based on student effort alone. (Including, of course, that student’s family, peers, and other support.)

Yes principals and other site leadership need to lead.   Principals should be able to tell who is performing and who is not. And they should be empowered to work with teachers that are not, and  severance teachers when necessary.

Likewise, administration leadership should  be able to tell which principals and site leadership are performing and which are not. And they should be empowered to work with principals that are not, and  severance them when necessary.

From the Denver Classroom Teachers Association  

…in partnership with the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA), the 16 schools that will be piloting the new teacher performance-assessment system called  LEAP (Leading Effective Academic Practice), starting in January 2011.  …. improving and strengthening our systems of feedback, coaching, evaluation and professional development, with a simple goal of enabling all teachers to be the best professionals they can be.  The LEAP system, as designed by teachers and principals, has student achievement at the center, and is focused on developing, recognizing, retaining, and rewarding effective teachers.

To be clear, LEAP is not yet set up  to be the SB191 evaluation tool. But it is clear that LEAP could become the evaluation tool that SB191 requires and the kind of tool that every district should be using already anyway.

SB 191 requires .

…evaluation system that would “provide a basis for making decisions in the areas of hiring, compensation, promotion, assignment, professional development, earning and retaining nonprobationary status, dismissal, and nonrenewal of contract.”

Every teacher is evaluated using multiple, fair, transparent, timely, rigorous, and valid methods. The recommendations developed pursuant to this subparagraph (I) shall require that at least fifty percent of the evaluation is determined by the academic growth of the teacher’s students and that each teacher is provided with an opportunity to improve his or her evaluation and level of effectiveness to professional development opportunities. The multiple measures to determine effectiveness of teachers shall include, but not be limited to, measures of student longitudinal academic growth that are consistent with the measures set forth in section 22-11-204 (2) and achievement levels on any statewide assessment in the relevant subject and grade level or any locally adopted interim assessments approved by the state board to assess student academic growth in the relevant subject and grade level.

Teachers achieve “nonprobation status” with three years of a grade “demonstrated effectiveness” and lose it based on two years of “demonstrated ineffectiveness”.

LEAP does not yet include any SB191 type negative consequence for a less-than-effective rating.  And if or when it does, perhaps it should be stricter than the two years of demonstrated ineffectiveness just to get probationary status.  Perhaps after one year of less than effective,  probation  and training and other “intervention” to get that teacher back to demonstrated effectiveness.  

Perhaps SB191 is too strict and should be modified.  The data could persuade me either way, but as a parent, I know when my students have had less than effective teachers, I don’t want to wait two years to address anything.  I want it fixed yesterday, before my kids even get there.

Which, of course, begs a discussion to answer the questions What makes a good teacher? principal? How do we measure their performance?  What do we do with  the measurements?  

And how do we account for the fact that in some districts, teachers have mostly students who are native English speakers,  well fed and clothed, with solid transportation solutions, who have parents and family that are supportive of their child’s educational and classroom performance. But in other districts, there are gangs, and drugs, and apathetic or absent parents and family, limited and inconsistent transportation and etc and so on.

Clearly  “less than effective”  staff in the former district could appear to be outperforming even the otherwise “effective”  staff in the latter.

The measure is supposed to be “longitudinal growth”. Ie, in a year does the student demonstrate a year’s worth of growth, less than a years’s worth of growth, or even more than one year of growth. CSAP measures that for students (with varying degree of success depending on who you ask).    

But even in districts where the students tend to do well on CSAP and show annual growth, it is not hard to find agreement that CSAP is not an ideal measure of teacher performance.  However in those districts, not many are too concerned about using it that way.

So how much of the growth is because of the quality of instruction? And how much is just the student?  

No one is “worried” about the students who make a year’s worth of progress  or more (a topic for another day).  And while everyone is concerned about the students who have less than a year of growth in a year -CSAP does not measure how much of the students’ growth or lack thereof can be attributed to the quality of instruction  Or at least not well and maybe not at all.

I agree CSAP should not be used for more than it is designed to do  and that it should not be used as a sole measure to evaluate teachers.  But SB191 does not require districts to use CSAP that way. It  requires Districts to come up with evaluation tools and it appears DPS leadership  and staff are trying to do that.