On reading, math, taxes, recruiting, defrocking, etc.

Ross Mackenzie
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Posted: Dec 20, 2004 12:00 AM

A mishmash of recent quotes from the news....

Sharon Rocha, mother of Laci Peterson, during the sentencing phase lashing out in court at her son-in-law Scott Peterson - found guilty of killing her daughter (Peterson's 27- year-old wife) two years ago and dumping her body in San Francisco Bay, where it was found four months later without a head or limbs: "Divorce was always an option, not murder!...You knew where she was (but) you didn't tell us. Instead you just let us go through this every day. . . . (Well aware Laci had a terrible problem with motion sickness, you disposed of her body at sea, knowing) she would be sick for the rest of eternity and you did that to her anyway."

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Leftist syndicated columnist E.J. Dionne: "Whatever the merits of (a 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling allowing colleges to bar military recruiters from campuses), the idea of keeping recruiters away from elite universities is a large mistake - for the military, for our country, and for liberalism itself. The growing separation between the military and many parts of our society, especially its most liberal and elite precincts, is a huge problem."

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The Rev. George McClain, an instructor in United Methodist studies at Union Theological Seminary in New York, on the Methodist defrocking of a Philadelphia lesbian minister by a jury of 13 clergy: "In most of the church there is a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy like in the military. You might have activists now on the right who want to ferret out gay people and those on the other side who are gay but don't want to live a double life anymore. . . . In the mainline churches, this isn't a lost cause. It's a struggle for religious hearts and minds."

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U.S. Deputy Education Secretary Eugene Hickock, on the results of a Paris-based test ranking American 15-year-olds 24th in the mastery of math concepts among their peers from 29 industrialized countries: "The overall message from this . . . is that the U.S. needs to do better. . . . We need to get young people interested in math and science at a younger age. . . . We need more qualified math teachers."

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Joel Kotkin and William Frey in The New Republic Online: "(In the presidential election,) Democrats swept the largely childless cities - true blue locales like San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Boston, and Manhattan have the lowest percentages of children in the nation - but generally had poor showings in those places where families are settling down, notably the Sun Belt cities, exurbs, and outer suburbs of older metropolitan areas."

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Washington Post staff writer Michael Dobbs, on the frenzy of competition among colleges for top minority students with high SATs: "According to the College Board, 1,877 African-American students nationwide scored higher than 1300 out of a possible 1600 on the SAT last year, compared with nearly 150,000 students overall who achieved that score."

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Al From, head of the moderate Democratic Leadership Council: "Let's get a message and redefine our party in a way that people will want to vote for us, and then our candidate will probably do fine. A candidate who eliminates the 'culture gap,' eliminates the 'security gap,' is willing to compete all over this country, and has an effective agenda for reform will do fine - no matter where he or she is from."

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Jose Maria Aznar, former prime minister of Spain: "Hope has triumphed, and with it the confidence of the American people in the values and principles on which our shared civilization on both sides of the Atlantic is based. George Bush decided to respond to totalitarian terrorist attacks with a return to basic principles. He could have chosen appeasement. He could have opted for mere rhetoric. He decided not to do so. He decided to oppose brutality with steadfast conviction. Now a wide majority of his people has backed this policy. It has confirmed that there is hope in our way of life, a form of hope that derives its strength from its essential convictions, a hope that is manifested in the desire to defend freedom above all else."

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Edward Prescott, co-winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Economics: "Americans aged 15-64, on a per-person basis, work 50 percent more than the French. Comparisons between Americans and Germans or Italians are similar. What's going on here? . . . Marginal tax rates explain virtually all of this difference. . . . Analysis of historical data in the U.S. and Europe indicates that, given similar incentives, people make similar choices about labor and leisure. Free European workers from their tax bondage and you will see an increase in gross domestic product (oh, and you might see a pretty significant increase in gross national happiness, too). The same holds true for Americans."

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Lucy McCormick Calkins, termed by some the nation's Moses of reading and writing education, responding to the question of whether there are differences between what boys and girls read: "We know boys often choose to read nonfiction and girls choose to read fiction, and schools don't support enough nonfiction reading. If that's going to be your sons' entrance ramp into reading, give it to them. . . . There is a widespread recognition that girls grow up loving to read more than boys. It is exacerbated by teachers, who are mostly women. The women are choosing the books the children read. That tends to be realistic fiction, (with which) libraries are filled. . . . Parents need to read to boys. They go out and play sports with boys but don't read to them. They need to read in front of their boys, and to their boys. And they've got to find books boys love."