Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Obama opposes Silicon Valley firms on immigration reform

Allegedly because it is not part of a "comprehensive immigration reform" bill, CNET is reporting that President Obama opposes "the Republican-backed STEM Jobs Act of 2012, which would make up to 55,000 visas available to foreigners who earned a master's or doctoral degree in certain science or technology area from a U.S. university. Those visas would only be available if immigration authorities certify that no American workers are available to fill the post."

Obama has not said he will veto this bill, but that is a possibility.

It's rather surprising for a few reasons that the president is not on board with giving more visas to talented foreigners. First, it's a surprise because the chief executives of high tech firms which want this gave Obama a lot of campaign cash this year. I credit the president for not being corrupted by their money, though it seems possible that his opposition may be due in part to the greater corrupting influence of organized labor, which gave Obama even more money. Second, it's a surprise because allowing talented and educated immigrants to come to the United States to work in our high tech sector is good for our country. Not only are these folks productive residents and hence contributors to our tax base, but many of them, if given the chance to live here, will go on to start new technology companies, creating more American jobs and wealth.

Legal immigrants founded or co-founded innumerable technology companies including Google, Yahoo, Intel, eBay, and Sun. A Kauffman Foundation study by Vivek Wadhwa found that 52 percent of Silicon Valley startups were "immigrant-founded."

Teachers' contract includes peer review

Education Week is reporting that the teachers' union in Newark, NJ has agreed to a new contract which gives teachers an incentive to perform well in the classroom:

A newly ratified teachers’ contract in Newark creates several firsts for New Jersey.

Some teachers will have the opportunity to earn up to $12,500 extra for getting a superior performance rating on evaluations, teaching in a low-performing school, or teaching a high-need subject. Also for the first time, peer reviews will become a formal part of the evaluation process.

This is an excellent idea. It's not the first such teacher contract in the country, but most base pay solely on tenure. I hope the idea of performance pay will succeed and spread.

Davis should have such good leadership, ideas and contracts as Newark now has. It's a shame our school district pays bad teachers as much as they pay good, and it's even sadder that there is no process to fire underperforming teachers.