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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat



    Obama for president?

    During a visit to Massachusetts this weekend, Sen. Barack Obama, the popular Illinois Democrat, hinted that a 2008 run for president was not entirely out of the question. Is the time right for a presidential campaign for Obama, or is he jumping the gun?

    Tread carefully, Barack. Tread carefully. Obama is 45 years old and has served in the U.S. Senate for less than two years. Obama is popular, charismatic and intelligent. But before he starts picking out drapes for the White House, Obama would be wise to recall the fates of Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden – two Senate colleagues who squandered their rising-star power by making premature runs for the presidency. Kennedy was 48; Biden was 45. More importantly, just two years ago, Obama promised the voters of Illinois that he would serve his full six-year term. Breaking promises to your constituents after your first national campaign might not be the best way to kick off a presidential bid. Ride slow, Obama. You have 20 years to make a better move.

    – Jon Riches is a third-year law student.

    If there were a good time for Obama to run for president, 2008 would be it. The American electorate is looking for something fresh. Disillusionment with Washington is at an all-time high, and that trend will probably only worsen over the next two years. All the main 2008 contenders are establishment figures – Bill Frist, John McCain, Hillary Clinton – figures with track records and political baggage. Obama doesn’t carry that baggage, and worries over inexperience can easily be assuaged with a little bit of good-natured charm – something Obama has plenty of. Note it now: Obama takes away the Democratic nomination in ’08 from an all-too-polarizing Hillary Clinton.

    – Matt Stone is a senior majoring in international studies and economics.

    Grants for test gains

    The Bush administration has just announced its plan to issue 16 new grants, totaling $42 million, that would reward teachers whose students receive markedly improved scores on standardized tests. Is this plan a good incentive for teachers to do their best work, or will it simply lead to “”teaching to the test”” or cheating?

    In principle, linking pay and teaching performance isn’t such a bad idea. Money talks, and when teachers know they will be rewarded for quality instruction, they will have an incentive to teach well. Currently teachers are paid based on years of experience and level of education, but what really matters is results. By using standardized testing and evaluations to determine which teachers are more effective, students will benefit. To be sure, much can go wrong with this plan. We need to make sure that teachers don’t cheat and that incentives are based on improvement, not on how smart the students are to start with. Some will argue that it encourages teaching to the test, and that is a problem. So we need to design the tests well and focus on the most crucial qualities, like math skills and reading. But careful experimentation now may produce big benefits down the road.

    – Ryan Johnson is a senior majoring in economics and international studies.

    Giving out pay bonuses to teachers of students who demonstrate increased test scores is a bad idea. While merit-based pay and incentives for high-performing teachers are excellent ideas, rewarding teachers based on improved scores encourages teachers all over the country to undercut their students’ education by “”teaching to the test”” at best and explicitly cheating or changing test scores at worst. Sure, relatively simple statistical analysis can identify which students really improved and which students received a little unethical help from their teachers. But the vast majority of already mismanaged school systems either don’t have the money to hire professionals to analyze the scores or will simply refuse to do so. American public schools need restructuring. And providing teachers with incentives is absolutely a good idea. But allotting millions of dollars to teachers with based on opaque test scores is just bad sense.

    -ððStan Molever is a senior majoring in philosophy.

    This Cosmo’s for you

    According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, bars are stocking more “”girly”” drinks than ever, in response to vastly increased consumer demand. Is this just a sign of the times, or something more insidious?

    The recent trend in which bars are stocking more and more “”girly”” mixed drinks is threatening the future of our nation. Catering to a female population that, thanks to “”Sex in the City,”” believes their drinks must be pink (to match their dresses), bar drink lists have disillusioned men about their cocktail choices. Neglecting to follow the footsteps of great men like James Bond and the Dude, men are replacing martinis and white Russians with appletinis and cosmopolitans. If this trend persists, we will reminisce of a time when men were men, and their drinks were, too. We will remember when Jack, Jim and the Captain filled the goblets of strong, real men, men who drank to drink. A future in which the sea breeze rules the bar is no future at all. Blush wine will go down in history as the great emasculator of this once-strong nation.

    -Courtney Smith is a senior majoring in molecular and celular biology and anthropology.

    Let’s establish something from the outset: I’m half Asian, and it’s a well-known fact that your average nun could drink me under the table. One stiff drink pretty much guarantees I’ll be sporting the “”Asian glow”” and transforming into my alter ego, “”Hurricane Wang”” (a “”category 5 storm of love””). So it’s nice to be able to get a drink that won’t render me unconscious, passed out under a bridge with a transient who keeps calling me Malachi. Besides, this is really an issue of supply and demand; bartenders and drinkmeisters are just chasing the market. Far be it for me (or Hurricane Wang) to begrudge them that.

    -Damion LeeNatali is a senior majoring
    in political science and history.

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