Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● The headline tells it all: “Failures rise at schools suspected of cheating.” The reference is to schools under investigation because of a pattern last year of changed answers on the important subject-knowledge tests given statewide to measure how well students are being taught. Atlanta students at some elementary and middle schools failed at up to four times the rate they did last year. Georgia doesn’t need national curriculum standards. It needs competent teaching and honest testing on the ones it has.
● Georgia has temporarily lifted limits on class size. Make it permanent. Let local officials make class-size calls and test the results. There’s long been too much regulatory interest in inputs. Outcomes matter.
● Do As I Say Department: President Barack Obama, who routinely blames George W. Bush for his every shortcoming and failing, tells high school students in a Kalamazoo, Mich., commencement address not to make excuses and to take personal responsibility for their failings. “You could have made excuses. …You could have spent years pointing fingers — blaming parents, blaming teachers, blaming the principal or the superintendent or the government. But instead, you came together. You were honest with yourselves about where you were falling short. And you resolved to do better.”
● All growing older should aspire to Zell Miller’s independence and the freedom to speak our mind without wanting anything that others can bestow in terms of power or possessions. We should fear, conversely, that we gain that status — and become Helen Thomas.
● Now that women, many of them strong conservatives like tea party favorite Sharron Angle in Nevada, have won GOP nominations for U.S. Senate or for governor, we’ll see how many of Emily’s List types who pride themselves on promoting “women” to higher office include “those women.” You know. Conservatives.
● Verifying the claims of political candidates, now popular in the media and related organizations, can be a walk through quicksand. To discern whether a politician is telling the truth sometimes requires the truth-squad to understand the conservative mind, as we saw during the health care cram-down. Does it save money? Does it ration care? Will bureaucrats influence end-of-life health care? Can you keep your insurance if you like it? And, too, all politicians should be allowed to interpret and to exaggerate optimistically the effect of their actions in, for example, creating jobs or recruiting industry. It’s impossible to tell where they stop honestly overstating their roles and start lying.
● A DeKalb group conducting a 4th Congressional District political forum invited the four blacks in the race — three Democrats and one Republican — but not Republican Liz Carter, who is white. A spokesman for the Newsmakers Live group said that “she wasn’t invited because at the time of this forum we did not know who she was.” A 10-second check of the Georgia Secretary of State’s Web site would have established her as a legitimate candidate from the first day of qualifying.
● Hundreds of lawsuits are in the works against Marietta, Austell, Powder Springs and Hiram by owners of flooded homes. Their claim is that the cities allowed too many parking lots and too much development. Cities should pay when three conditions are satisfied: (1) homeowners performed due diligence and could not possibly have known they were at risk of water damage; (2) city officials could reasonably have known that they were; (3) with that knowledge, officials acted with reckless disregard in permitting development beyond that allowed by cities of like size elsewhere in metro Atlanta. Some misfortunes that befall us are just acts of God.