Dumbing Down Education

It is my hope that by the time this is posted, North Carolina House Bill 145 titled “15-Point Scale for School Performance Grades,” has been killed in committee.

The K-12 education system is clearly failing in this country. The North Carolina has proposed a bill that would solve the problem of failing schools. 22% or NC schools are rated D or F. HB 145 would change the grading scale in school from its current 10-point scale to a 15-point scale.  40 would now be passing.

This would certainly lower the number of schools that are failing. The problem is that it would not solve the problem of students who do not have the skills needed to succeed. The 2018 National Education report card shows that only 36% 12th graders are proficient in reading and 25% in math. Proficient means they are reading and doing math at 12th grade level. Lowering the passing scores on tests does nothing improve that performance.

We have had several teacher strikes this past year. In addition to more money, they are demanding smaller class sizes and an end to charter schools. In elementary school, my classes had between 30 and 35 students. We didn’t have teacher’s aids. We were able to learn. Now class size is 20 or less in most classrooms.

Charter schools are allowed more flexibility than traditional schools. The don’t have to hire “certified” teachers. Most, not all, outperform regular government schools. One of the arguments leveled against charter schools is that they pick the best students. This may be the case with some schools but most use a lottery to pick students that apply. The ones that hand pick students are normally specialized schools such as arts academies.

It’s time to hold schools and parents accountable for poor academic performance. Until then, nothing changes.

Wind and Solar – the Environmentally Unfriendly Energy Source

Did you know that wind turbines use large quantities of rare earth metals? Mining those metals is very environmentally dirty. Did you know that after 15 years, wind turbines operate at 25-50% efficiency? What about noise pollution? A turbine will kill thousands of birds each year. Combined, millions of birds are killed. Because of the amount of land that must be cleared, animal habits are destroyed and more erosion happens.

Solar is also dirty. Solar panels also use rare earth metals. They take up large areas of land. Rooftop solar is a little more friendly.

We keep hearing that the cost of wind and solar are coming down. Some reports say that wind and solar are cheaper than fossil fuels. That is only true if you don’t take into account the subsidies and replacement costs. A conventional coal or gas plant can operate 50 years or more. Nuclear can operate over 40. New reactor designs could last even longer. Taking all that into account, wind and solar are not a replacement, only a supplemental source of energy.

Because sun and wind are not available 24 hours a day, energy must be stored. Batteries are also dirty. Depending on the type, they have hazardous chemicals or metals that are expensive to recycle.

I would love to have solar panels on my roof as a supplement but it is too expensive. Break even is 15 years if nothing breaks. That makes no sense.