The Locker Room

January 19, 2007

Poor news writing

Posted by Jon Sanders at 11:56 PM

It's on display in the news article I linked on Right Angles:

A men’s restroom at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has become the playground for men who want to pleasure themselves in public and try to pick up other men according to police. Since December, officers have arrested and charged 11 men with public indecency. The list includes University of North Carolina Professor Dr. Hugh Tilson and Spelman College Professor Lev T. Mills.

“He was masturbating while watching other patrons in the restroom,” explained B.C. Williams with the Atlanta Police Department. ...

Police reports indicate men from North Carolina and Missouri have traveled to Hartsfield-Jackson and were arrested. One man focused his attention in the bathroom on military men and another performed sex acts with children nearby.

The first problem is an unclear antecedent. Who was masturbating? Two professors are introduced in the preceding sentence, but the onanist is identified only as "he." (From later context, it appears the police officer was referring to Prof. Mills.)

The second problem is a misplaced modifier in the last quoted sentence. Was the man nearby performing sex acts with children, or was he near children while performing sex acts? From the context, it seems that the latter is the case, but on first reading it sounds the other way.

P.S. Mitch is going to be unhappy that I made this post above his last two on the Senate president pro tem, so please go check them out.

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Hear the president pro tem yourself

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 6:44 PM

If you still wonder why I titled the last blog entry "Light bulbs & herring," this might clear the confusion.

Other topics of interest during this afternoon's briefing:

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Light bulbs & herring

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 5:01 PM

Those were just two of the topics on the mind of state Sen. Marc Basnight, D-Dare, this afternoon. Basnight's colleagues are expected to elect him Wednesday to an eighth term (15th year) as president pro tempore.

Basnight tied the discussion of incandescent light bulbs and disappearing herring to a broader discussion of environmental issues he'd like fellow lawmakers to address in the upcoming session. His goals include steps that would help reduce carbon output.

(If the headline still doesn't make sense, wait for the audio clip that I'll post a little later this evening.)

Among the other highlights of Basnight's annual pre-session meeting with media:

  • He'll consider the session a "bit of a failure" if lawmakers fail to approve a long-term solution for counties' growing Medicaid bills.
  • Governors and others ought to give up on the "One North Carolina" slogan; it's not true and won't be true.
  • The transportation funding situation is a "wreck." The state needs to find a better way to deal with transportation needs.
  • He'd like to see more reviews and audits of the system used to appropriate money.
  • He supports at least some level of differential pay for schoolteachers. Basnight offered the specific example of paying more money for math and science teachers.
  • He wants to look more closely at charter schools and how well they're performing, though he offered no predictions about raising the state's cap of 100 charter schools.
  • A statewide school bond would be great for the counties, but Treasurer Richard Moore "is a pretty good Scrooge" (in a good way) in terms of warning lawmakers not to borrow too much money.
  • He sees no need to continue with an elected state Superintendent of Public Instruction. "If we sense any warmness in the House" for bills designed to do away with that and other statewide elected positions, Basnight says he would be interested.
  • He likes using special provisions in the state budget to pass major pieces of legislation such as the Clean Water Trust Fund and Smart Start.
  • The lottery is not one of his priorities, so he's not offering any recipe for tweaking the current lottery formula.
  • He doesn't like the state's current school testing program. Basnight would prefer a test or tests that allow North Carolina to compare its kids to those in other states.
  • The Senate would probably like a plan that involves creating an Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • He doesn't see much hope this year for major tax reforms resulting from a study commission led by his ally Sen. David Hoyle, D-Gaston.
  • Likely N.C. House Speaker Joe Hackney, D-Orange, is a "prince of a guy."

We'll post some audio in the Locker Room a little later. 


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Point of Order

Posted by Michael Moore at 4:02 PM

Last week this little feud took place on the U.S. House floor.

 Bless Their Heart!



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Caldwell ($100 million incentive deal)

Posted by Chad Adams at 3:40 PM

Sometimes Christmas comes a bit late. And sometimes, in Google's case, it just keeps on a comin' for thirty years.

"Officials agreed to waive 100 percent of Google's business property taxes and 80 percent of its real-estate taxes for three decades." or so the story goes. So, the new bar, if anyone is keeping score is 30-years tax free. That is where you start if you're looking in North Carolina.

If all of this is so good, why not waive taxes for ALL businesses? Oh, that's right, because we need business to pay taxes for things like police and fire. The difference here is that Google is more important than the jobs of the other companies already in Caldwell. More here. . . .

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Something to Gobble about?

Posted by Michael Moore at 3:10 PM

Down in Sampson County it seems folks are upset because a fellar down there wants to build Turkey Houses, well according to the article the County is zoned as Agriculture.


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This weekend on Carolina Journal Radio

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:47 PM

Why should government stay away from funding horse parks? Michael Sanera will share his thoughts on the topic during the next Carolina Journal Radio.

Dallas Woodhouse of Americans for Prosperity N.C. will also join us to discuss the recent flap between Wake County school and county leaders over the school system's construction and renovation plans.

We'll also have reports on: the global war on terror, courtesy of U.S. assistant defense secretary Robert Wilkie; the recent race for the Democratic nomimation for N.C. House speaker; and the need for more prison beds in the Tar Heel state.

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Expanding the Sales Tax is a tax hike

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:22 AM

Michigan finds itself in the classic spend and tax bind. The state legislature faces another bad budget year and some advocates there say there is no room to cut so the state must

Raise taxes, said Sharon Parks, vice president for policy at the Michigan League for Human Services. She said expanding the sales tax to services and entertainment such as concert tickets would be a start.

But Rep. Jack Bladenburg told the Detroit Free Press

"There are rumors that there's going to be a sales tax on services and whatnot," Brandenburg said. "Just because deficits occur, it doesn't mean you're taxing too little. It means you're spending too much.

"You spend your way into a deficit, you have to cut your way out."

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Lottery Revenues down 3.8%

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:15 AM

Massachusetts lottery revenues are down $71 million through the first five months of the fiscal year, reports the Boston Globe. The article states New York and North Carolina are among "a number of states" reporting weaker lottery sales.

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Re: On press credentialing, ideology, & new media

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:05 AM

John, that is a ridiculous standard; I don't see why Ross isn't allowed in. Big deal he's an "advocate"; he's a citizen as well.

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On press credentialing, ideology, & new media

Posted by John Hood at 09:59 AM

There is a boiling controversy at the moment about an application by Kirk Ross, formerly a staffer at The Independent Weekly and now a freelancer for various publications, to join the Capitol Press Corps in Raleigh. Rather than repeating everything here, I'd suggest Locker Room readers check out a post by the Greenboro News & Record's Mark Binker on why he and his colleagues said no, as well as a thread on Ed Cone's blog that includes my take (and some usual anti-JLF kookery).

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Terry's education research corner

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 09:10 AM

Do credentials matter for North Carolina's teachers? According to a new study by Charles T. Clotfelter, Helen F. Ladd, Jacob L. Vigdor, the answer is yes.

The authors find that credentials matter most for math achievement in grades 3, 4, and 5. I doubt that their findings would hold up for middle and high school teachers, but I digress. These winning credentials include experience, form of licensure, and licensure test. Master's degrees generally had a negative effect on student achievement. National Board Certification identified better teachers but did not appear to make them more effective.

I am not surprised that teachers with any of these credentials produced greater gains on state mathematics tests. I do think experience makes a difference when it comes to quality math instruction, but I am less convinced that licensure matters. After all, experience and licensure are closely related. Teachers with more experience typically have a regular license, and, in this case, licensure may simply coincide with experience.

I am concerned that Clotfelter, Ladd, and Vigdor grouped all licensure tests (PRAXIS tests) together. Teachers may take different PRAXIS tests to earn certification. Some PRAXIS tests may be better predictors of performance than others, but, in general, I have no problem with the idea that better teachers probably achieve higher scores on PRAXIS tests.

Smaller effects were found for reading achievement. This is where the study fizzles, because the authors fail to explain why there is a difference between math and reading. What gives?

And then there is this finding, buried on page 26 of the report:

For math achievement, we find quite consistent results across models, with male teachers generating less positive results than female teachers, and black teachers less positive results than white teachers. For reading, in contrast, no differences emerge in the effectiveness of black and white teachers in any of the models. Of most interest is the finding that when a student and a teacher are the same race, the effects on student achievement are positive...

Anyone who attempts to use this study to justify teacher credentialing will have to deal with this issue.

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Test score inflation in NC?

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:29 AM

A new NBER paper by Brian Jacob, Test-Based Accountability and Student Achievement: An Investigation of Differential Performance on NAEP and State Assessments, says yes. I touch on the phenomenon here.

Hat tip: Coletti

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