Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Education Secretary discusses economy with No Va. high school students

Washington station WJLA reported at noon today (Feb. 10) that Obama’s new Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Wakefield High School in Arlington in order to provide students with some real life contact with civics and government. All of this happens on the same day that the station reports that DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee (discussed yesterday in the context of her reassuring op-ed) that a worsening economy may reduce teacher compensation.

Duncan reportedly discussed the economy with students, who must be edgy about how they will fare with student loans and college tuitions, as well as increasing fees for AP tests and the like. (There was no link yet for the report on the visit). I suppose he could have talked about the ethical pitfalls that led to the financial collapse -- extreme capitalism run amok, with the untoward short-term incentives given to millions of individuals as in David Callahan's "The Cheating Culture."

I subbed at Wakefield from 2004-2005 and that’s another chapter of my life experience, with some troubling results, that I’ve discussed on these blogs before.

Wakefield is located in the southern part of Arlington, the least prosperous part and Wakefield is now the school most in need of work (possibly to benefit from economic stimulus money). Washington-Lee, from which I graduated in 1961 when it was one of the top public high schools in the nation, now has a new building (and is still expanding); Yorktown, in the most prosperous area, opening around 1960 and had major additions sometime around 2000.

The New York Times today reports that Timothy Geithner has won an intra-administration political battle softening investors from the consequences of the “stress test” associated with bank bailouts, in a front page article by Stephen Labaton and Edmund L. Andrews, link here. The article also discusses the stagnation in the markets for securities related even to mortgages that are performing because the underlying equity values have fallen, an issue mentioned by President Obama in his press conference last night.

Perhaps the sleeper economic story, however, appeared in The New York Times on Monday (Feb. 9), Business, Bill Vlasic “Running on Fumes No More: In Silicon Valley, Mapping a Global Plan for Car Changing Stations,” link here. The underlying issue is getting car buyers over the hump on going all electric: range, and the fear of getting stranded. Apparently, entrepreneurs are getting serious about offering recharged batteries at service stations, and providing the infrastructure for electric car owners to exchange them and for stations to recharge them. Would this require a lot of economic stimulus money now?

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