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Monthly Archives: October 2012

It’s Not My Fault

Our President seems unfamiliar with the concept of command responsibility. I would have thought that by now someone would have pulled him aside for a quiet chat to explain that the person at the top is responsible for what happens on their watch. The President certainly understands the idea of taking credit for things that are done by other people under his supervision, as evidenced by the constant reminders that he brought down Osama Bin Laden, but when it comes to massive blunders, all we hear is that it’s not his fault because he wasn’t informed[1].

The constantly changing story about the murders at the US embassy in Benghazi is the latest example of the President trying to dodge responsibility. We’ve heard lies about how an offensive YouTube video caused the attacks[2], followed shortly by the claim that the White House wasn’t told about the situation and that no one requested aid[1], a denial that they ever claimed the film was responsible, and Secretary of State Clinton trying to take the responsibility for the events in Benghazi[3].

However, all variations of the story have proven to be false. The White House knew just a few hours after the attack that it was carried out by terrorists, and was no protest over a video[4]. They received warnings and requests for extra assistance before the attacks and did not respond to them[5]. And despite Secretary Clinton’s claims that it’s all her fault, the truth is that the President is ultimately responsible for what happens under his administration. If President Obama was truly ignorant of the events unfolding in the situation room located in his own house, then it’s still his fault for being an incompetent administrator. To quote Stan Lee, “With great power comes great responsibility”[6]. Obama has shown he wants the great power. It’s time for him to accept the great responsibility.

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Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Content of a Character

The Supreme Court is again hearing a case about discrimination in university admissions. A white applicant is suing the University of Texas, claiming that she was denied admission based on her race. She believes that if denying admission to a black student based on race is unconstitutional, then denying admission to a white student based on race should be as well. However, many universities’ and colleges’ admissions programs don’t follow this line of reasoning, and give added preference to minority applicants.

In the admissions year in question, 216 minority students were admitted through an admissions program that gave them preference over more qualified students because of their race [1]. They were admitted, not because of greater merit or potential, but because of the color of their skin. In the same year, 1,714 other minorities got in on their own merit, making up 23% of all new freshmen, therefore it is obviously possible for minority students to work hard and get in without an artificial boost.

Yet there are still people that support Affirmative Action as fair and necessary. The University of Texas President Bill Powers said that a ruling against his school “would be a setback for the university and society”[2], but he fails to explain how. Minority students have the ability to be just as smart and hard-working as any white student, and they are already getting into the school on their own merit, so why should the bar be lowered for some applicants and others excluded for what should be nothing more than an irrelevant physical characteristic?

Martin Luther King, Jr. said that he dreamed of a day when his children would “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”[3], but the sad truth is that his dream is not yet a reality.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Equality

 

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The Law of Unintended Consequences

There is a cartoon gag that shows a character at a leaky dam, plugging the leak with his finger. A new leak then forms, so he plugs it with another finger. The process continues until the character is out of ways to plug the leaks, at which point the dam bursts. This crumbling dam reminds me of our nation’s education system and the Looney Tunes trying to fix it. The idea of holding teachers “accountable” for student performance, mostly based on standardized test scores, is simply the latest finger in the leak. But, as in the cartoon, this will not fix the dam.

In trying to patch up the education system, the designers of the teacher accountability plan didn’t consider that there are a great many variables that determine student performance, and many of them are out of the teacher’s control. Students vary in health, self-motivation, parental involvement, academic talent, and socio-economic status. Teachers should motivate and teach to a high standard, but it is simply unfair to judge the performance of an affluent, self-motivated student with good nutrition and involved parents with the same measuring stick as a poor, malnourished student living in a dangerous neighborhood with a single parent who works three jobs. The problem is bigger than the classroom.

This plan will put teachers at so-called “problem” schools at an immediate and unfair disadvantage, rewarding them for their work at a challenging school with lower pay and fear of termination. The teacher accountability plan does not take into account what happens outside the classroom. The truth is that the leaks in the dam that is the education system are symptoms of instability in the entire structure. Plugging the leak of poor student performance by placing all the blame on teachers will only lead to a hemorrhage of qualified teachers. Intensive rebuilding is what is called for, not pointing fingers.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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