Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Of TAKS and Taxes

Two otherwise unrelated items, connected only by pronunciation of a key word:
  • Welcome to Statewide Private Teacher Skip Day. After a way-too-busy weekend, I finally got to enjoy (?) a "fake Saturday" this morning; today--as you already know if you live in Texas--is the first of many parts of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, also known as the TAKS test. From where I sit, it means no chance to teach the schoolkids (as a band director friend of mine said, "there will be a stoppage of all learning" today), so I'm not due to be anywhere until the my college teaching starts in the mid-afternoon. One of my colleagues in the schools referred to today as "Statewide Private Teacher Skip Day," though we were later discussing that it differed from the celebrated Senior Skip Day in high school in that none of us owns a ranch where we could stage a barbeque like we did back then.

    I won't bore you with my thoughts on the TAKS test today, as I've written about it many times before (click the TAKS tag at the bottom of this post if you're interested in reading more). I'll just reiterate how happy I am that it's about to go away at the high school level (starting with 2010's freshman class, if I recall), which means that this Skip Day (and the ones to follow at the end of April) will be minimized. There also could be major changes afoot in how Texas schools are rated and held accountable (think three years' worth of test scores instead of just one), and there may even be a different kind of test to replace the TAKS for elementary and middle schoolers (though I'd love to see it go away for them as well, or at least moved to the beginning of the year to be the true "assessment" reflected in its name).

  • Oh no, Ron, not you too! I ranted quite a bit a while back about the ridiculously high number of Cabinet nominees who seem to have "forgotten" to pay their taxes; as I sit down to start my own taxes on this holiday morning, I am once again reminded that, if I did this myself, I'd be in prison rather than have some sort of cushy government job. But just when we thought this thing might finally be over, it ended up hitting close to home. The latest offender? Former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk:
    Ron Kirk's excess deductions for basketball tickets and failure to report speaking fees as income have cost him $10,000 in back taxes, a Senate committee disclosed Monday, in the latest IRS-related embarrassment for an Obama Cabinet pick.

    The problems are the first indication of potential trouble for Kirk's nomination to be U.S. trade representative, though White House officials and key senators called the errors minor and predicted the former Dallas mayor will be confirmed by the Senate.
    Yeah, of course they're "minor" if they happen to someone in government. If Joe Average does it, he still gets audited or even worse. Here's the most annoying quote from the Capitol Clueless Committee:
    "When you put anybody's tax filings under a microscope, people don't have to be dishonest," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "It's just hard to do all the right things. It certainly shouldn't disqualify him."
    Well, Senator, if it shouldn't disqualify him, then the penalties for everyone else should be diminished as well. Or here's another idea: Make the tax laws simpler. If these "great minds" that you simply have to have in government (I'm talking about you, Turbo Tax Timmy) can't even figure the laws out properly, how should anyone else be expected to do so?
I'll be catching up on old posts throughout the week, so thanks again for your patience. (And how ironic is it that SiteMeter shows my readership up for last week, even though I hardly had time to post anything new?)

Hey, kids--this spud's for you! The Amazon toy blog posts a great video of one of the original Mr. Potato Head commercials. I had totally forgotten about the fact that, at first, real potatoes were used to make him! Imagine going on vacation and leaving him out somewhere for a week or so...

No comments: