Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ignorance -- Our greatest enemy.

Today, September 17, is constitution day and across the country constitution day celebrations are planned. I hope to be at one today watching new citizens being sworn in. One great thing about converts (new citizens) or anyone who has made a conscious decision is they have invested in their new country and have learned much about that which they have joined. In fact it is typical to administer a citizenship quiz where a score of 6 out of 10 gets you a pass. So all of those today taking their oath to the USA will have scored a 60%.

However, in Arizona, students in high school did not do so well. Pass rates on a citizenship test were 4% for public school students, 7% for charter and 14% for private school students. Read the short report from the Goldwater Institute (click on the link at the bottom to see the eye-opening and distressing results).

A sampling: Only 26% know George Washington was the first president, only 58% know the Atlantic Ocean is on the East Coast of the US, only 23% knew the two parts of the congress are the house and senate, only 25% know the first 10 amendments are called the Bill of Rights. The biggest outrage (or extreme sadness) is that over 70% do not know that the constitution is the supreme law of the land.

Is this typical to Arizona, I fear not. The report cites a National Assessment of Educational Progress study that even 12th graders did not score over a 32% pass rate (and this is for all of the USA).

If you are a teacher -- try the test (in the link) on your students.
  1. What is the supreme law of the land?
  2. What do we call the first ten amendments to the constitution?
  3. What are the two parts of the US Congress?
  4. how many justices on the Supreme Court?
  5. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
  6. What ocean is on the east coast of the United States?
  7. What are the two major political parties in the United States?
  8. We elect a U.S. Senator for how many years?
  9. Who was the first President?
  10. Who is in charge of the executive branch?

Answers in the link above.

Q. What does this have to do with economics?

A. Everything.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Teenage Unemployment Highest since records have been kept.

Teens are hardest hit in this particular recession. Here is a graph from Catherine Rampell in her Economix blog post.

Now here is a puzzle. Before 1993 the median length of weeks of the unemployed (time to find a job) roughly equals the unemployment rate. After 1993, the duration in weeks is seemingly larger than the unemployment rate. Why?