Monday, September 25, 2006

Memo to the Media: Immigration Isn't Going to Decide Election

If ten voters list their most important issue, maybe one of them will talk about immigration - and I question the reason driving that position. To be sure, immigration is an important issue and people need to become citizens when they move to America, but having sensible positions on immigration isn't going to swing this election. And let's all be honest: Deval Patrick's positions are sensible.

So for Fox 25 to go and talk about how Deval did terrible on the immigration issue and how he could lose lots of votes for it is disingenuous. Poll after poll has shown that it's the media that cares about immigration, not people. Immigration ranks on the bottom of the national conscience, especially in places like Massachusetts where immigration isn't a big problem. Immigration is an issue similar to Terry Shiavo: the media ate it up and suspected lots of conservative leaning people would rally around the issue, but turns out not even Republicans cared - oh, and Steven Lynch.

So let's get off this fixation on in-state tuition and licenses. It's unlikely that the state will have the power to grant licenses to undocumented citizens anyway, with new federal rules (assuming the state will take the money). Immigration is such a loaded issue where facts are confused with the passions of bigots the few and far between.

Instead, let's focus the debate on issues that matter: education reform, property tax vs. income tax, hastening permit approval and other issues where voters need to be better informed in order to make an educated vote. Let's discuss just how we're going to make our new healthcare system work; the new law could be a great thing if the right governor is elected - or it could be a complete and utter disaster. So, media, let's discuss issues that matter to people - not people on the fringe, but society as a whole. Let's target the debate on the nine out of ten people who care about issues that matter.


Joe said...

You know, I'm going to have to agree with you on this one. While I think that we certainly shouldn't ignore it, I don't think this should even be in the top 5 for make-or-break issues in this race. We don't like in Arizona or something.

I have a question about Deval, I'm not trying to slander or anything, this is a serious question. Ok, when a student gets his GPA, that's reflective of of his grades. A student with a high GPA could be a hard worker in a tough school, a slacker in an easy school, or a regular student with so-so teachers and whatnot. GPA is pretty subjective depending on what school you go to. With the MCAS you have a a single test thats the same for everyone, so you can get a cross section of where low grades are and high grades are that a graph of where the highest GPAs and such are wouldn't give you. If Deval takes the MCAS away, which he seems to want to do, how would he then measure schools as a whole in order to increase the pay for teachers in particular schools that are performing well?

Anonymous said...

Because the MCAS tests expose the poor performance of teachers, the Mass teachers want to get rid of them. And Democrats will do what the Mass teachers union wants.

Anonymous said...

Unions are scary. Good luck with that one, Anon. It's a wonder you guys are on the point of extinction here. Your message resonates so deeply with the people of the state.

Joe, did you have some kind of standardized test when you were growing up? Grades have always been "subjective," if you want to put it like that. Does that mean we should eliminate them? Do that mean that your education is worthless? What's an "easy school," do you really think there are schools out theer with no good teachers, no teachers with standards, etc? That doesn't make any sense.

I'm not a teacher, but the point is is that many students don't respond well to teaching to the test methods. Even students who do well on standardized tests don't always retain the information when the test is over. Some of the toughest teachers, the ones whose students do best on MCAS, don't like it because it limits their ability to adapt their teaching methods in a way that students will respond to. If students are responsive, they'll learn better. If one technique doesn't work, maybe somethinge else should be tried. Students get bored and overwhemled but it's hard to adapt when the test pressure is relentless. It really does limit opportunities for learning.

Anonymous said...

Illegal immigration is a big issue in this campaign. Illegal immigrants in Massachusetts have driven down wages in the construction industry and eliminated industries such as janitorial service as a viable business for honest employers and viable employment for documented workers. Illegal immigrants put a strain on state infrastructure (prisons, hospitals, public schools, etc.) that costs every taxpayer and homeowner in this Commonwealth money. It is the primary reason I will not be voting for Patrick.

Education is an important issue, but we actually put more money than we should to K-12 education at the moment. The problem is we waste far too much on school administration, pensions are bloated and the school day is far too short. We need to extend the length of the school day (something Patrick supports) and increase some of the down time for students in school. It is appalling that the average primary school in Massachusetts allocates only 20 minutes to lunch and 3 minutes to get from class to class. This needs to change. The most important change we could make would be to require teachers from 7th grade on to have a master's degree in the subject they teach. A master's degree in education qualifies one to teach nothing but educational theory. We pay our teachers well and are so overgenerous in their pensions that cities and towns are taxing people out of their homes to provide those pensions. On the whole, K-12 educators in the Commonwealth are better paid than professors in the private and public colleges and universities of Massachusetts. We should damn well require high standards of our teachers in return.

Finally, for many of the "nice to have" things each and every school district and each teacher would like to have to make teaching easier/better/more rewarding... why can't K-12 educators and administrators do what higher education faculty and administration do? Write grants to obtain the myriad public and private funds specifically ear-marked for educational activity.

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