Super Bowl Sunday

This is your open Super Bowl thread. I expect to see the Packers by 10. The Steelers are banged up, Troy Polamalu is less than 100 percent, and if the Packers can keep Rodgers in the game, he should be able to pick apart the Steeler’s secondary on turf. If the Steel Curtain knocks Rodgers out of the game, they will probably win, but I don’t think they’ll be able to do it.

And E-Trade for the best commercial.

Incompetent teachers resist oversight

It is clear that science teachers are completely missing the point of testing standards. They don’t appear to understand that it isn’t what they find valuable that actually matters:

The Obama administration has urged broadening the subjects tested under the law — possibly including science. But some teachers say they are already burdened by state requirements to teach a wide range of facts — say, the parts of a cell — which prevents them from devoting class time to research projects.

“I have so many state standards I have to teach concept-wise, it takes time away from what I find most valuable, which is to have them inquire about the world,” said Amanda Alonzo, a science teacher at Lynbrook High School in San Jose, Calif.

Alonzo has it all wrong. It is absolutely worthless to anyone but the teacher for high school students to “inquire about the world” at school. Intelligent inquiry requires information and teenagers simply don’t possess enough of it for them to ask anything but stupid and ignorant questions. Although it is to the detriment of the student’s education both students and teachers prefer self-centered “inquiry” to objective standards because the former is subjective and avoids the accountability of the latter. This does not mean that all standards are intrinsically desirable, only that some form of standards testing is the most reliable means that parents have of determining if their children have actually learned anything or not.

The uncomfortable truth that so many teachers are desperate to avoid is this: a properly instructed student should be able to pass the basic standards tests with ease regardless of the particular form his instruction took. If the standards are too difficult, then obviously they should be adjusted. But it makes absolutely no sense to assert that students will learn better if they are a) educated according to the individual whims of their teacher, and b) never tested by an unbiased third party on their knowledge at all.

Mailvox: the Fed evades

JH asks a Federal Reserve official about the decline in private borrowing:

I solicited advice from you quite a while ago on a debt deflation question to ask a Fed Reserve speaker at a work function, and as you predicted, he pretty much dismissed drawing any conclusions from the Fed Z1 report which showed that without government debt growth the US was in severe debt contraction. The speaker said the contraction was a temporary result of there not being enough good people or businesses worth investing in presently. On some level this may be true, but he still completely avoided discussing the implications of continued credit contraction to the overall economy.

It’s a pity JH wasn’t allowed a follow-up question, as the obvious one was as follows: how do you explain this “temporary result of there not being enough good people or businesses worth investing in presently” in light of the fact that a) there are more people in the USA than ever before, and b) the fact that there has NEVER been a comparable contraction in private credit in the post-war era.

The other question I would have liked to ask the Fed official is this. How long do you think government sector credit can continue to expand and prevent Z1 from falling if the household and financial sectors continue to decline?