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Author Topic: Bogus Katrina Claims Top $1 Billion
Richard Dey
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Probe Finds Bogus Hurricane Aid May Top $1.4 Billion

FEMA Relief Funds Paid for Football Tickets, a Caribbean Vacation and a Divorce Lawyer

By LARRY MARGASAK, AP

WASHINGTON (June 14) - The government doled out as much as $1.4 billion in bogus assistance to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, getting hoodwinked to pay for season football tickets, a tropical vacation and even a divorce lawyer, congressional investigators have found.

Prison inmates, a supposed victim who used a New Orleans cemetery for a home address, and a person who spent 70 days at a Hawaiian hotel all were able to wrongly get taxpayer help, according to evidence that gives a new black eye to the nation's disaster relief agency.

Federal investigators even informed Congress that one man apparently used FEMA assistance money for a sex change operation.

Agents from the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, went
undercover to expose the ease of receiving disaster expense checks from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The GAO concluded that as much as 16 % of the billions of dollars in FEMA help to
individuals after the two hurricanes was unwarranted.

The findings are detailed in testimony, obtained by The Associated Press, that is to be delivered
at a hearing Wednesday by the House Homeland Security subcommittee on investigations.

To dramatize the problem, GAO provided lawmakers with a copy of a $2,358 U.S. Treasury
check for rental assistance that an undercover agent got using a bogus address. The money was
paid even after FEMA learned from its inspector that the undercover applicant did not live at the
address.

"This is an assault on the American taxpayer," said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of
the subcommittee that will conduct the hearing. "Prosecutors from the federal level down should be looking at prosecuting these crimes and putting the criminals who committed them in jail for a long time."

FEMA spokesman Aaron Walker said Tuesday that the agency, already criticized for a poor response to Katrina, makes its highest priority during a disaster "to get help quickly to those in desperate need of our assistance."

"Even as we put victims first, we take very seriously our responsibility to be outstanding
stewards of taxpayer dollars, and we are careful to make sure that funds are distributed
appropriately," he said.

FEMA said it has identified more than 1,500 cases of potential fraud after Katrina and Rita and has referred those cases to the Homeland Security inspector general. The agency said it has identified $16.8 million in improperly awarded disaster relief money and has started efforts to collect the money.

The GAO said it was 95% confident that improper and potentially fraudulent payments were much higher - between $600 million and $1.4 billion.

The investigative agency said it found people lodged in hotels often were paid twice, since
FEMA gave them individual rental assistance and paid hotels directly. FEMA paid CA
hotels $8,000 to house one individual - the same person who received three rental assistance payments for both disasters.

In another instance, FEMA paid an individual $2,358 in rental assistance, while at the same time paying about $8,000 for the same person to stay 70 nights at more than $100 per night in a Hawaii hotel.

FEMA also could not establish that 750 debit cards worth $1.5 million even went to Katrina victims, the auditors said.

Among the items purchased with the cards:

· an all-inclusive, one-week Caribbean vacation in the Punta Cana resort in the Dominican
Republic.

· five season tickets to New Orleans Saints professional football games.

· adult erotica products in Houston and "Girls Gone Wild" videos in Santa Monica CA.

· Dom Perignon champagne and other alcoholic beverages in San Antonio.

· a divorce lawyer's services in Houston.

"Our forensic audit and investigative work showed that improper and potentially fraudulent payments occurred mainly because FEMA did not validate the identity of the registrant, the physical location of the damaged address, and ownership and occupancy of all registrants at the time of registration," GAO officials said.

FEMA paid millions of dollars to more than 1,000 registrants who used names and Social Security numbers belonging to state and federal prisoners for expedited housing assistance. The inmates were in LA, TX, AL, MI, GA, and FL.

FEMA made about $5.3 million in payments to registrants who provided a post office box as
their damaged residence, including one who got $2,748 for listing an AL post office box as
the damaged property.

To demonstrate how easy it was to hoodwink FEMA, the GAO told of an individual who used 13
different Social Security numbers - including the person's own - to receive $139,000 in payments
on 13 separate registrations for aid. All the payments were sent to a single address.

Likewise, another person used a damaged property address located within the grounds of Greenwood Cemetery in New Orleans to request disaster aid. Public records show no record of the registrant ever living in New Orleans.

Instead, records indicate that for the past five years, the registrant lived in WV - at the address provided to FEMA, the GAO said.

06-14-06 00:59 EDT

When AOL users were polled whether they were surprised that bogus claims had topped $1.4 billion (N=67,000) 15% said YES, 85% said NO.

Are we shocked, dismayed, and thoroughly disappointed [Big Grin] ?

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Ivan
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Meh. People suck. I also think it's disgusting that we don't expect better.

Any chance we can publish the names of the people who stole tax payer dollars for this kind of crap? Say, their name, what they wanted paid for, and how much they recieved? I assume there are privacy issues that would prevent this, but I've always been a fan of using public humiliation and shame as punishment for moral infractions.

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javelin
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I'm thoroughly disappointed in FEMA. I'm disgusted and feeling vengeful towards the fraudsters. I hope that our OTHER government agencies will track these bastards down and put them away.

I hope people's disgust at FEMA's incompetence doesn't outway their disgust at those commiting the fraud, but I my hope is pretty thin. I have very little trust in our society's ability to pay attention to what's important.

Let me ask the people on this board:

Is it more important that FEMA did a poor job in guarding against fraud, or that we, as a society, have so many people willing to engage in it? And if you want to shoot for the middle answer of "both" - do you think that companies and our government agencies should be the bastion against fraud, at whatever it costs us to secure against it, or do you think the better course might be attempting to fix whatever it is in our society that makes this fraud acceptable enough that so many people are willing to engage in it?

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canadian
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People trying to get something for nothing...

I don't think that's a recent societal ill. Just watch the purse strings.

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javelin
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I think that my feeling that this has become worse than it was would be hard for me to prove. I think showing that there are quite a few societies out there that do a better job curtailing that urge has been done before - here even.

So, shouldn't we try to curtail that urge?

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Mormegil
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Let me ask you javelin, if you can get away with defrauding the government, why shouldn't you do it?

Now me, I wouldn't do it because I believe it's wrong. And I believe it's wrong because of a system of morality produced by my religion, which I also believe accurately describes the nature of the universe.

But our schools are certainly not teaching objective morality. Most systems claiming to be objective morality are based on religion, and in fact I would argue that any system of objective morality, whether based in the supernatural or not, is a system of faith and if it were taught as fact in the schools it would violate the 1st Amendment just as much as teaching about New Testament morality.

It used to be that we had a system of moral imperatives and a consequence-based legal system working side by side. For many now, the legal system is all that they have. Many people now will actually argue "but it's legal!" as if that made it right.

Me, personally, until I started going to church, I was not taught morality. I was taught not to lie or steal or whatever, but not because it was wrong. I only knew that parents/teachers were unhappy and I'd get in trouble. If I could do things without anyone finding out, I avoided all negative consequences.

So, do you want to stop fraud, or stop people from wanting to commit it? For the former, if we can convince people that they *will* be caught, it would provide a motive. But many people are too stupid to think they'll be caught, so we will still have lots of fraud. If we can teach people that it's *wrong*, they are more likely not to do it.

But how do we teach people it's wrong? Go even further towards the idea that illegal=immoral and legal=moral? That's where we've been headed, but I think it causes all sorts of problems, not the least is that many things formerly curtailed by unwritten social agreement are now engaged in with impunity, forcing us to codify a civil law about it. And I really don't want the government teaching that it is an authority on what is moral. Many people won't buy it anyway. The government endorsed Plessy vs. Ferguson. It's not a moral authority.

Realistically I see no way to curtail the urge to commit fraud, given our current cultural trends.

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Richard Dey
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Dateline New Orleans 2007.06.15

Katrina Fraud Squad Costs Top $1.5 Billion [Big Grin] .

NB, everybody in US, Go Take a Fllying Flag Day!

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javelin
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quote:
Let me ask you javelin, if you can get away with defrauding the government, why shouldn't you do it?
That's a good question - and one I consider implicit. There are other answers besides morality, as you partially point out, and they can be summed up with the word "consequences". If the consequences are clear, consistent, and not desirable then the activity is curtailed (not stopped completely). So I'm going to expand (we seem to be in agreement).

Some other ways this can be done instead of using morality (which is something I like, by the way - I do have something I consider an objective moral standard that all should follow - I'm also aware that many don't agree):

1. Punish those committing fraud harshly, consistently, and in a way that most people would want to avoid.

2. As a society, we encourage each other to not commit fraud by TURNING THEM IN, even if they are family or good friends. By saying "I think that's wrong. I'd turn in anyone who did something like that." By not laughing and considering it a good prank that these people managed to steal billions of dollars belonging to you and me. By making it clear that you think that they are scum - regardless of how much you like them. By MEANING IT.

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Mormegil
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quote:
1. Punish those committing fraud harshly, consistently, and in a way that most people would want to avoid.
That stops the people who are smart enough to think they won't get away with it. It doesn't stop the fools and the people who really are smart enough to get away with it.

quote:
2. As a society, we encourage each other to not commit fraud by TURNING THEM IN, even if they are family or good friends.
And how do you encourage people to turn in family and friends? Unless you plan on punishing them for *not* doing it, why would they? If your brother can get some free money out of the government and not get caught, why shouldn't he? If he can avoid the consequences, what motive does he have to not do it, apart from morality? And what motive do you have to turn him in and receive the scorn of other friends and relatives for doing it? Especially if he cuts you in a little...

I think expecting people to turn in their relatives is almost a complete lost cause. I know people who say they believe 100% in the Bible and will side with a family member who is blatantly doing something the Bible explicitly condemns. For many people, family trumps even morality, let alone legality.

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Everard
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" If he can avoid the consequences, what motive does he have to not do it, apart from morality?"

Not much. If people can steal, they will, unless they understand the consequences. (This actually goes back to empathy. But thats not what I want to discuss here).

Your proposed solution seems to be to teach morality in school, am I reading you right?

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philnotfil
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Does anyone else find it amusing that right after Katrina everyone was clamoring for FEMA to do away with the redtape and just get the help to the people that needed it?
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Everard
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Not really. We DID need to get rid of the red tape and get help to people who needed it urgently. Now, we need to go after the people who commit crimes, and lock them up.
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Mormegil
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quote:
Your proposed solution seems to be to teach morality in school, am I reading you right?
No, I have no proposed political solution. It's up to parents to instill in their children a sense of right and wrong. The school is not capable of doing this.
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Everard
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ok. It seemed you were going there since you brought the school system and morality up earlier in this thread.

I do think schools are capable of helping students develop an ethical sense. And, in fact, certain techniques in fighting bullying over the last few years have seemed to be successful at getting students to understand why their behavior is wrong, without relying on absolute morality. But the primary responsibility is with parents.

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Jesse
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I don't recall ever once saying that I thought debit cards were a good idea.

I'm sorry, but I think the generally bungled FEMA response encouraged fraud. I think theives are attracted to ill-guarded homes, and un-locked tool boxes.

That's not a mitigating factor in any way shape or form. It doesn't in any way mean that I think these people shouldn't be prosecuted to fullest possible extent of the law.

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The Drake
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The debit cards were an excellent idea. At least we have a record that indicates what the money was used for. Unlike a government assistance check.

Fraud is a major problem, I have no empathy for people who commit fraud. Including family. And no, I don't really expect most of society to live up to my high standards.

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Mormegil
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quote:
It seemed you were going there since you brought the school system and morality up earlier in this thread.
The responsibility *is* with the parents.

I don't think it's possible for the public school system to teach morality, in this current social climate. In another time, they could at least help.

It would be nice if they'd stop actually hindering.

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Everard
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" In another time, they could at least help.

It would be nice if they'd stop actually hindering."

I think they are helping. far more then they were when, for example, people dropped out of school because they got pregnant.

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Mormegil
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That's a really first rate non sequitur.
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Jesse
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How?

Women often used to have to drop out of school if they were in the family way.

How did that help them?

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The Drake
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The discussion wasn't about helping people learn facts, it was about helping them develop morals.

So how does the difference in the treatment of pregnant children demonstrate that schools now help students learn moral values?

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javelin
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I've not been contributing to this thread for a bit - been low on time and interest. But I am concerned - do you really think it's impossible to get your community to care about things like this? The hardest, but most effective way of making things like this not happen anymore is to convince friends and family that it's wrong, and do your best to make sure they are doing the same with their friends and family. If your opinion means anything - if we can get our sense of outrage to stop being so numbed, perhaps we can actually remind people that sometimes things are wrong - sometimes things that people do are just wrong, and they need to be told that - they need to be scorned for it. We need to encourage people to do the right thing, and make sure we don't snicker at the clever little fraud they pulled the other day.

Is that too much to ask? Just that those reading this post think about doing that - better yet, actually DO THIS in their life?

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Everard
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"The discussion wasn't about helping people learn facts, it was about helping them develop morals.

So how does the difference in the treatment of pregnant children demonstrate that schools now help students learn moral values?"

People used to be forced out of school if they got pregnant, now they aren't. The difference in treatment indicates a higher degree of ethics is being utilized in public schools. Schools can't teach a specific moral code, but they can teach kids how to behave towards each other in a respectful manner. The difference in treatment indicates a greater respect for individuals.

Or the case of bullying. Schools are at the forefront in developing methods for combating violence between children (and please note that its not just on school grounds that bullying occurs, and that its not just kids who go to public schools that suffer from bullying).

Its not that schools are good at teaching a specific moral code of behavior. They aren't. And they shouldn't be. But they've been doing very well at teaching kids to behave ethically towards each other.

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Mormegil
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quote:
But I am concerned - do you really think it's impossible to get your community to care about things like this?
Pretty much, yeah.

quote:
The hardest, but most effective way of making things like this not happen anymore is to convince friends and family that it's wrong, and do your best to make sure they are doing the same with their friends and family.
Hey, I agree. I just don't think there's enough people who care about morality, and of that group there's not enough that will work hard to influence others, and of that group, not all of them will be successful at it.

I remember when I saw the movie Gladiator and there was a slave that wanted to buy his freedom, and his future plans as a free man included having his own slaves. So he wasn't against the concept of slavery, he just didn't like when it worked against *him*. You can get people outraged by fraud that takes money out of their pockets, but when it does not, they don't seem to care to much.

Hey, people don't even care that much about children being molested; if they did, they wouldn't let molesters out in public again after 5 years to do it again. Good luck getting them to turn in their friends for cheating "the government," especially when they realize that whether their friends cheat or not, their taxes aren't going to change one way or the other.

quote:
People used to be forced out of school if they got pregnant, now they aren't. The difference in treatment indicates a higher degree of ethics is being utilized in public schools.
An improvement in behavior in one area does not necessarily indicate a higher level of ethics, because there might be corresponding decrease in ethical behavior in another area, and an overall decrease in thinking about the world in moral terms -- even if acting better in some, or even many, ways.
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The Drake
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Except that they don't teach kids the consequences of their actions very well anymore. Kids get extra credit to make up for their failing grades. Teachers avoid making kids feel bad about failure, to the point of not using red ink!

Then there's the teaching of rigid intolerance through the widespread establishment of "zero-tolerance" rules, and kicking kids out of school for having OTC cold medicine. Or making their fingers into the shape of a gun and saying "bang".

Not to mention teaching kids that free speech is not allowed, by restricting them from mentioning God in a commencement address.

Yep, they certainly are teaching some excellent ethics there. But at least the pregnant girls get daycare on campus.

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Richard Dey
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Morm:

I saw a figure somewhere that suggested that ~10% of slaves in 1861 were owned by free blacks. Prof Percy thought that conservative. Blacks were also slave dealers, intermediators, and 'slave trainers', too. The sickness went to the black soul of society.

And you know that I have a problem with morality's not being ethical enough [Eek!] . That just has to be one of the problems, no? The ethical don't trust the moral, and the moral don't trust the ethical -- so a lot of life's garbage winds up in the street instead of the sewer where it belongs. Well, that's one theory. but yes, I fight the imposition of morality in our laws for the very reason that I don't trust the moral to know where to stop.

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flydye45
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I'm still waiting for the ethical to know when to start.
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Everard
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"Except that they don't teach kids the consequences of their actions very well anymore. Kids get extra credit to make up for their failing grades. Teachers avoid making kids feel bad about failure, to the point of not using red ink!"

I agree about the problems with not failing students. On the other hand, you should actually look into the red ink thing before dismissing it. Using red ink leads to a lower level of learning, because kids simply won't read comments in red ink to the degree they will read, for example, purple ink. If kids aren't reading constructive criticism, they won't know what they did wrong, and so won't improve. Its not about coddling... its about increasing learning.

"Then there's the teaching of rigid intolerance through the widespread establishment of "zero-tolerance" rules, and kicking kids out of school for having OTC cold medicine. Or making their fingers into the shape of a gun and saying "bang"."

On the other hand, a lot of this is in response to having serious bullying problems, or violence and drugs problems, and much of it imposed because of PARENTS, (not being able to fail kids is also a function of parents). These aren't school imposed changes, in other words.

"Not to mention teaching kids that free speech is not allowed, by restricting them from mentioning God in a commencement address."

You know, I believe that was, what, one or two school? And yes, using a school ceremony to prosyletize is unconstitutional. Mentioning god is not, and the vast vast majority of schools don't restrict students from mentioning god in their commencement addresses.

"Yep, they certainly are teaching some excellent ethics there"

For the most part... yes. Better then things were 10, 20, or 50 years ago. And when stupid rules aren't being imposed by parents, schools are doing significantly better then when parents try to foist off their own dumb ethics... such as zero tolerance, or being so extremely anti-drug that kids get in trouble for taking medicine.

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Snowden
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How much would it cost to strictly police these funds, and how effective would it be? It's possible that 16 percent is the cost of doing business. I don't know, but before we jump on FEMA's case, these questions should be addressed.

[ June 17, 2006, 04:47 PM: Message edited by: Snowden ]

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TommySama
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""Except that they don't teach kids the consequences of their actions very well anymore. Kids get extra credit to make up for their failing grades. Teachers avoid making kids feel bad about failure, to the point of not using red ink!"

I agree about the problems with not failing students. On the other hand, you should actually look into the red ink thing before dismissing it. Using red ink leads to a lower level of learning, because kids simply won't read comments in red ink to the degree they will read, for example, purple ink. If kids aren't reading constructive criticism, they won't know what they did wrong, and so won't improve. Its not about coddling... its about increasing learning."

On the other hand ev, at my high school (at least.) we don't fail kids at all! anymore. Can you believe it? You can go four years through high school and never fail a class. Nope, nada, neva!

The A,B,C,D, & F system was too harsh for us soft high schoolers (isn't it interesting how we need to be coddled with bad grades even though at the same time are being desensitized by video games?)

We now have a A,B,C,D & N system. N was taken to be less harsh than F (failed!) N means "not passed." Isn't that sweet?

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Everard
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"On the other hand ev, at my high school (at least.) we don't fail kids at all! anymore. Can you believe it? You can go four years through high school and never fail a class. Nope, nada, neva!"

You know why school districts can't fail kids...?

Its pretty much the parents. Too much pressure applied to schools when little johnny fails. Pressure of the sort of "I'll sue" or "i'll get you fired," or "we'll vote to slash the budget next year."

School administrators aren't powerful enough to stand up to local pressure not to fail kids, and as a result, kids don't get failed.

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The Drake
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Would you like to back that up, Ev? I don't question that parents pressure schools to avoid failing kids - but it seems like parents are often up in arms about a lot of things, and schools defy parents in those other areas.

This panel describes grade inflation at Harvard, where it is the students putting pressure on professors.

This article from NEA suggests that teachers are in conflict about grading without community pressure mentioned as a factor.

quote:
Judge vs. Advocate
A second struggle is between the need to evaluate a student's achievement and the need to encourage and motivate further effort. One QUASAR teacher was emphatic about the negative impact of grades:

I just hate grades. They are very discouraging for the children. The ones who get A's, get A's. Some kids come to school every day -- in our community that's really wonderful -- yet they get F's. I give them F's, because that's what they earn, I guess. That's the system.

Teachers recognize that grades are taken seriously by students, parents, and school administrators, and that poor grades may have unintended consequences for students. As children are challenged to do more complex tasks, it becomes important to support their efforts over long periods of time. As a result, teachers often use value judgments and ethical reasoning in their grading practices. Here's how one QUASAR teacher put it:

Once I have the grades averaged, I think about, you know, do the students participate? Do they come to school? Do they mind doing oral presentations? That type of thing. I even tell the kids. "If your average is an 88, and you do all these things, you've got an A."

The special teacher/pupil relationship increases the difficulty of being impartial (Airasian 1991). Teachers are familiar with personal characteristics of their students, such as attitudes, self-esteem, motivation, and family background. So it is not surprising that grades often reflect justice tempered with mercy.

Later in the article, we find that teachers within the same school have blurry standards for grading. I think we have to assume they are not subject to varying levels of pressure from the same parents.

quote:
To be meaningful, however, grades must be interpreted by all members of a school community in the same way. If a B is construed to mean that a student has mastered from 80 to 90 percent of the material in a course, then the teacher's determination of that grade must be based on mastery of course content. Stiggins, Frisbie, and Griswold (1989) found that different teachers in the same building sometimes adopted different cutoff scores for the same grade, or even used different reporting schemes for the same course. Our interviews with QUASAR teachers showed the same disparity in methods for assigning grades.
The rest of the article is very informative also. Worth a click, even if you don't usually follow linked sources.

quote:
Even if a student gets a D, that doesn't tell the whole story. In fact it gets in the way of the whole story. When we talk about behaviors and concepts -- that is assessment. If we go to all the work of changing, and the only result is a more complicated way of coming up with a grade, nothing much will be accomplished.... My hope is that alternative assessment will lead to kids demonstrating that their work is quality, and if it isn't, they keep working at it without being labeled failures.
And this is a fundamental mis-interpretation of giving a failing grade. Working hard is important, but it is possible to work hard and fail. If you work hard and fail, it doesn't make you a failure.

A student can be given an F and simultaneously be encouraged to try harder, use different study methods, etc.

This is a fundamental failure of our educational system within the last couple of decades. We should not assess kids on their attitude, hard work, class participation. When what matters is to assess their mastery of the subject being taught.

While there are likely external pressures, I suspect that much of this phenomenon is driven by changing attitudes toward a teacher's role.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
Hey, I agree. I just don't think there's enough people who care about morality, and of that group there's not enough that will work hard to influence others, and of that group, not all of them will be successful at it.
You're right. I think if we had a more religious society, we might have a more moral society.

The fact is, people will always be able to get away with fraud. The law will never truly be able to punish enough fraudsters to make that kind of crime not pay. Further, as others have already pointed out, you'll never deter the people too stupid to realize they'll get caught or the people too smart to get caught.

The beauty of God is that you can't escape him. Like Santa, he knows when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake, and he's always watching. If you do wrong, he WILL get you, no and ifs or buts about it. That's as good a motivator to be good as it's going to get. It's not perfect, but nothing is perfect.

I am an atheist. I try to be moral. I want to be moral. But it's irrational. I don't see any non-religious reason to be moral. Sure, there are non-religious explanations for why one would choose morality, but I find that these are often just ways for people like me to rationalize our behaviour. I've given up trying to rationalize being a good person. I want to be good. That's enough for me.

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Jesse
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jasonr-
More religous societies tolerated everything from human sacrafice to slavery to pedarasty.

The Drake-

"This is a fundamental failure of our educational system within the last couple of decades. We should not assess kids on their attitude, hard work, class participation. When what matters is to assess their mastery of the subject being taught."

Part of what schooling does is teach how to give the impression of possesing the attitude others want to see, teamwork, and hard work.

My opinions even ten years ago jibed completely with yours, but I really wasn't ever challenged in any way untill I enrolled in a Community College and started taking moderately advanced math courses.

I had absolutely no idea how to study, how to seek out or form a study group, how to explain my problems to a teacher in a way that would enable them to instruct me.

If you mean that we shouldn't allow excellence in the areas of hard work, good team work, or positive attitude to be used as an excuse to pass a student who hasn't mastered the material, then I agree with you completely.

If you mean these aren't values a teacher should try to instill, we have definate difference of opinion.

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The Drake
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I didn't mean to give the impression that I thought those qualities were unimportant. They are.

But they shouldn't be a part of assessment, meaning grading. By all means, talk to the parents about the kid's bad attitude. Give her detentions for her backtalk. It shouldn't be in the grade.

I also want to make sure that people don't think that I just mean testing either. Judging mastery should be a combination of many sources of information on the student's knowledge.

I had an award for excellent playground behaviour in 1982, and it is the only academic award that I display in my office. [Big Grin]

Speaking of which, I apologize for demolishing the original intent of this thread. That wasn't nice, and I will give myself a "time out".

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Everard
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Drake-
I apologize to not getting back to you sooner. I currently do not have online access to the education journals i have cited in the past here.

Yes, grading is a major area of conflict amongst educators. And that makes it an easy area for parents to target, in terms of getting their complaints aired. Unlike a lot of complaints that parents have about education, a failing student isn't a policy or curriculum debate... its a personal plea to teachers. And that changes the whole nature of how the exchange between student, parent, teacher, and administrator, occurs.

Also, administrators are put into positions by policy initiatives where the higher the percentage of students that pass, the better the school district is rated.

So the teacher wants to fail Johnny... Johnny's mom calls the teacher, asks why the report card has an F. Teacher says "Johnny didn't do the work." Parent says "can he do extra credit?" teacher says no. Parent calls principal. Principal tells teacher that johnny can do extra credit to pass the class. Teacher says "but he didn't do the work." Then you get involved in a nasty three way imbroglio. The teacher loses that fight every time. And the administrator never says that its policy to pass all students, but the teacher is undermined. So next time, he doesn't fail his student, because he doesn't want the principal getting down his throat again, and the principal is happy because irate parents aren't calling him AND a higher percentage of his students are passing classes.

But, yes, grading is up for serious debate amongst educators, and that means a lot of teachers don't LIKE grading policies in their schools. Most of those people, however, at least at the high school level, want to fail MORE students, because the idea they are looking at is the concept that only upon demonstration of mastery should you move forward, and grade level should not be determined by age.

But the whole concept of not failing students goes to, really, parental pressure... and stupid achievment measures that reward schools for not failing students that deserve to be failed.

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The Drake
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quote:
stupid achievment measures that reward schools for not failing students that deserve to be failed
I'll agree with that.
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Richard Dey
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Jesse:

I am not moral either. I try to be ethical, however, for the reason that I do not want to be presumed in the dim gallaxy of history to have been Jew, a Christian, or a Moslem. I took Nancy Reagan's advice, and said NO to bad! [Big Grin]

You can be gay and better than a homophobe, you can be an atheist and be better than a Christian, you can be an orphan and better than a chosen person.

The ultimate judgment? That is not made by gods. That is made by history because that is made by you.

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