The UWIRE Forum

Problem with schools isn’t lack of time behind desks
September 30, 2009, 1:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
Alex Knepper

Alex Knepper

Not content with angering senior citizens, President Barack Obama has turned his guns on the nation’s kids, proposing that American schools should add time to the school day to “stay competitive” with other countries.

Our school system’s calendar, Education Secretary Arne Duncan explains, is “based upon the agrarian economy, and not too many of our kids are working the fields today.”

Okay, great. Except that what the calendar was based upon is irrelevant if it isn’t the cause of our present educational discontents. It’s rather as if our labor secretary were to argue that professional cashiers are poor because there aren’t enough hours in the work day. Making the school year longer will only mean our kids are getting sub-par education for a longer time.

The problem, simply put, isn’t the calendar, but what the calendar is being filled with.

It’s true that American students are lagging badly behind other countries, both Western and Eastern, on standardized tests on a range of topics from mathematics to literacy. And it is indisputably correct that our education system direly needs reform.

While nothing can replace the foundational effect of a stable household and nurturing parents, there are certain actions schools can take in order to better prepare students to meet life’s challenges, both modern and ones that have existed since time immemorial.

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Obvious to medical student that US needs real health reform
September 29, 2009, 9:29 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

By Iyah Romm, guest columnist and medical student at Boston University

Two years ago I had an accident – I fell down a flight of stairs, landed on my head and as a result, am now legally blind. Why is this relevant? As a medical student, I had access to world-class care unlike most others.

That wasn’t the case for Paul, a young man with diabetes I met shortly after my accident. He too lost his vision because — like at least 46.3 million other Americans and 14,000 more each day — he was uninsured and couldn’t afford the insulin he so desperately needed.

And yet, as sad as this is to say, Paul may be relative fortunate. A recent study in the American Journal of Public Health estimates that 45,000 Americans die each year simply because they lack health insurance.

We need reform. Desperately.

But in the two years since my accident, despite denying claims left and right, the insurance industry spent $16 million drawn from premiums on Congressional campaign contributions to fight health care reform legislation. This summer, they’ve spent $1.4 million daily on opposing reform through insidious and deceptive advertising and lobbying campaigns.

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Christian beliefs lead me to oppose health reform bill
September 29, 2009, 9:25 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

By Will Ramsey, guest columnist and medical student at Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine

As a medical student, following the health care reform bill wind its way through Congress feels like watching the future of my career teeter between two substantially different paths: one of freedom and the other of government-mandated security.

As a Christian, I desire for my life to be a testimony to the glory of God. I hope my convictions about the bill honor God, but, I want to be careful not to present these judgments as biblical. The bible does not talk about H.R. 3200 and so spiritual discernment in this case is difficult.

However, as I ponder how best to serve my God, my neighbors and my country, I find myself in opposition to this bill. I am concerned that it will inevitably worsen the current health care dilemma facing America.

The root of the concern is the incredible amount of control this bill will eventually give the government in making health care choices. In fact, sections of the bill seem to explicitly prepare for the eventual movement towards a single payer system.

So what does this mean for patients?  A single payer system will remove my patients from being my boss and allow the government to take their place.

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Why does U. Pitt continue to support anarchist G-20 protesters?
September 25, 2009, 10:31 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

By Giles Howard, guest columnist and student at University of Pittsburgh

Anarchists and the student groups affiliated with them vocally promised to take “direct action” against local businesses in countless online and print publications over the last few weeks. Thursday night, Pittsburgh witnessed what “direct action” meant when hundreds of protesters and students smashed shop windows, lit dumpsters on fire and rioted in the streets.

Their behavior was predictable and, while the police took their threats seriously, other individuals in positions of power did not. The University of Pittsburgh allowed student groups to organize on campus with what I see as the goal of causing mayhem in the streets of Pittsburgh.

If the school doesn’t immediately take action against two specific student groups who took an active role in planning and promoting the G-20 protests, which turned violent, Americans should be outraged — tax money shouldn’t go to institutions that seemingly support and protect perpetrators of violence and civil unrest.

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Conservatives cast aside ideology, whine about Obama cutting big government
September 24, 2009, 12:08 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
Chris Burks

Chris Burks

America took a small step away from big government last week, but you wouldn’t know it judging from the comments of the rabble rousers now looked to as the leaders of the conservative rump that remains in Washington.

The House of Representatives voted to remove banks as middle men in the student loan business and to make direct loans to students, saving $87 billion for the U.S. according to the initial CBO estimation.

Some conservatives claim that the government was taking over part of the economy and crowding out private business by, get this, eliminating subsidies for the banks that were used for these loans.

Instead of the government takeover that some conservatives warned of, the reality is that government is the economically efficient actor in the student loan marketplace both because of the scale of investment and the sound administration of the direct loan program that is already in place.

Under the current system, a student can get Stafford Loan or PLUS Loan through either the Direct Loan program, where a student receives the loan directly from the government, or through the Federal Family Education Loan Program, where a student goes through a bank to secure a loan, which is guaranteed and subsidized by the government. Overall, the FFEL costs the government billions of dollars a year in subsidies.

At best, risk-free hand outs to profit-seeking third parties is politics as usual; at worst, a big money scheme that fleeces those who we should be investing in the most — students in need.

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Michelle Obama feeds anti-conservative bias at university
September 23, 2009, 2:15 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

By Travis Korson and Joe Naron, guest columnists, students at George Washington University and members of the school’s Young America’s Foundation group

First lady Michelle Obama pledged that if George Washington University students completed 100,000 hours of community service she would speak at the school’s commencement. Not that we’re against community service, but Mrs. Obama’s offer should be declined.

Mrs. Obama’s “service for speech” pledge earlier this month works counter to the notion of community service. By encouraging students to volunteer for the stated purpose of booking a high-profile commencement speaker, the meaning of service is reduced to a measure of hours spent working for a political objective, and volunteering no longer is an act carried out for its own sake.

Volunteering should be conducted as a selfless act whose only motive is a desire to see beneficial change in the community, lest doubt is cast on intentions of those serving.  Shifting the focus of community service away from the community and towards some other goal, as Mrs. Obama has done with her pledge, has created an atmosphere of false volunteerism.

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America’s problematic approach to ‘Global War on Terror’
September 23, 2009, 9:31 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
Matt Cavedon

Matt Cavedon

This summer, Fatah, Palestine’s largest and oldest political party, had its first conference in several decades in order to try to chart its future. With President Barack Obama’s recent trips to Africa and, in particular, Egypt now completed, America also has some thinking to do about the future of our involvement in the Islamic regions of the world.

Since the September 11th attacks, America has been embroiled in what President Bush declared to be a “Global War on Terror,” now known as an “Overseas Contingency Operation.” In particular, the Bush Administration took a strong stance against the “Axis of Evil”: Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. These three states were perceived to be state sponsors of terrorism against the United States.

Although North Korea tends to act alone, Iran and other militant Islamist movements have been seen as presenting a united front against America. Palestine’s Hamas, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia’s al-Qaeda, Somalia’s al-Shabaab, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Iraq’s Mahdi Army and Iran’s government have all been seen as different incarnations of a global Islamo-fascist world movement by a number of prominent neoconservatives and other foreign policy pundits.

This approach is problematic for a number of reasons.

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