AirTalk for August 16, 2010

Mercer 9683

New study of LAUSD examines teacher effectiveness

A new LA Times analysis of teacher effectiveness in the Los Angeles Unified School District is causing a stir. The study is based on 7 years of standardized test scores in math and English – comparing students to their own prior performance. Teachers say that basing instructor performance on standardized test results ignores other critical factors. But some students are being left behind – and the study suggests that some students get poorly performing teachers year after year. Parents can work to get their kids into better performing schools, but fate determines the quality of their teachers. Is the evaluation system broken? Can standardized testing be used to measure teacher performance?
Mercer 9681

Ground Zero Mosque and President Obama

On the eve of his family’s trip to the Gulf Coast last Friday, President Obama seemed to endorse the proposed building of a Mosque two blocks away from Ground Zero in New York City. At a Ramadan dinner, he stressed everyone's right to freedom of religion under the U.S. Constitution. But on Saturday, after Republican criticism surrounding his remarks soared, Obama rephrased his statements, announcing “I was not commenting, and I will not comment, on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there.” So what did the president really mean? And, with the mosque debate escalating, should Obama have voiced his opinion?
Mercer 9682

Villaraigosa’s Bike Summit

The mayor of Los Angeles declared himself an LA cyclist…and promptly fell off his bike last month and broke his elbow. He’s recovering, but the painful experience prodded him to focus more on a basic question of transportation planning: how can cars and bikes co-exist? Do they need to be physically segregated by barriers or buffers? The Mayor is holding a bike summit downtown at LA Metro this morning where he’s taking questions directly from the bike-advocate community. Question number one: in a flat city with perfect weather and a fitness-conscious population, why is it so challenging to get people on bikes?
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