Saturday, March 31, 2012

School Funding Ideas

Is this the latest fad?
Economist Rick Hanushek argues today that there is no evidence to suggest “weighted student funding” will improve public school outcomes as its bipartisan backers hope. He contends that simply tying school-level funding to students, and thereby bypassing some of the budgetary role of districts, will create no systemic incentive for improvement and will not advance more substantive reforms.

He’s almost certainly right. Instead, Rick contends that districts should be financially rewarded based on their performance, borrowing a key aspect of the free enterprise system. But just that one aspect… and that’s a problem. There is no reason to believe that slapping a single isolated aspect of the market system on to the side of our state school monopoly will transmogrify it into a model of efficiency and responsiveness. Any more that strapping feathers to a brick can make it fly.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I Did It

Tonight I filled out the application and paid the fee for that Master of Arts in Teaching Math program. May the Force be with me.

Canadians Have The Answer In Numismatics

They pulled their $1 and $2 bills years ago and replaced them with coins--which is certainly reasonable, since coins should be for "small change" and notes for larger expenditures. We should do the same.

What good are pennies anymore? None, and the Canucks are yanking them:
The Canadian government announced on Thursday that it plans to pull the penny from circulation at the end of 2012, saying the copper-coated currency is more expensive for the Royal Canadian Mint to produce than its actual currency value.
I don't often say that we should follow the lead of our friends up north, but in this case we should.

The Lefties Are In A Tizzy

Lefties have been in their own echo chamber for so long that this week's arguments before the Supreme Court (regarding Obamacare) were entirely novel and amazing to them--but we conservatives haven't been keeping these arguments secret. No, our friends on the left have just refused to accept that conservatives can make valid points that lefties don't want to hear. They're stunned and amazed, the shock and awe of legitimate conservative arguments. When even Mother Jones claims that the government's (pro-Obamacare) case was pathetic, perhaps liberals need to pay attention and not cover their ears and repeat "la la la la la la I can't hear you".

Oh, but they'll claim their arguments were just fine, it's this biased conservative court that's the problem. National Review covers a lot of ground in this piece, but here's what they say about the ideological court:
In recent reports, it’s been noted that 20 percent of the Court’s cases were decided 5–4 in the 2010 term. True, but 48 percent of the cases were decided 9–0, which reflects a pattern that has held for years. Is the Roberts Court any more divided than the William Rehnquist Court in 2000, when 30 percent of the cases were decided 5–4? Is the fact that Roberts and Alito agree 96 percent of the time really more troubling than the fact that Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor agree 94 percent of the time?
I hope they make the right decision. A wrong decision here, combined with Kelo, means that Americans essentially have no rights remaining that the government doesn't grant.

Update: Why did legal elites underestimate the case against the mandate?
Ridiculing the need for a limiting principle or other anti-mandate arguments may get approving nods in the faculty lounge, but, as we saw this week, it won’t receive an equally warm welcome in court.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Have You Had A Bad Week?

If so, was yours this bad?
So, in one week, Mr. Obama got caught whispering promises to our enemy (actually, "rival"), incited a race war, raised serious questions about his understanding of the Constitution, and then got smacked down over his proposed budget that was so wildly reckless that even Democrats in Congress could not support it.

Winning The Lottery

Of course the chances of winning the big one are about the same whether you play or not, it's still fun to play sometimes--even if GMA wants to play party-pooper:
The Mega Millions jackpot, the biggest lottery award in the game's history at an estimated $500 million, has millions of people dreaming, however ridiculous the odds may be.

The odds of getting struck by lightning are about one in 280,000, according to the National Lightning Safety Institute. The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot for the next drawing on Friday are estimated at about one in 176 million, according to lottery officials. Though that bolt from the sky may strike you more than 500 times before you hit that jackpot, it's still fun to dream.

Some people claim to have strategies to increase your chances at lottery games, but mathematicians say there is little you can do to win Mega Millions.

I Came To A Realization Today

I'm going to share a deep, dark secret with you:

I don't know as much math as you might think I do. And I've always been afraid of being found out.

I've always known where my education was deficient, even when I was receiving that education. In high school I never learned about hyperbolas, or about factoring a cubic polynomial. I'd never heard of the Rational Root Theorem or Descartes's Rule of Signs. In college I earned a degree in applied math, and could calculate my butt off, but so often didn't fully understand what I was doing. I knew what to do, and I could understand why one step logically led to the next, but I didn't have a "big picture" understanding. As an example, in differential equations I could calculate eigenvalues all day long, but to this day I don't know what an eigenvalue is or what it does for me or why I need to calculate it. I've taught myself plenty--sometimes just days before I had to teach it to my students.

This came to a head today when I was talking to one of my students who's heading to Cal Poly. I told him not to make the mistake I made; ask the questions, go for the deeper understanding.

I've never understood the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. Why, exactly, are an integral and an antiderivative the same thing? I've followed the steps in my calculus books, and understood each step, but never really understood how they all fit together. So today I pulled a different calculus book out of my closet and I started studying. I found one that provided a very user-friendly explanation, which then allowed me to understand the very rigorous (read: dry and difficult) proof in a second text. It took a few minutes to replace decades of deficit.

I learned something today. Tackling the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra, which one book says is "beyond the scope of this textbook", is next.

I remember my senior project at West Point. I was writing a computer program that would aim a gun at an airplane, and an instructor asked me, "Why are you using that algorithm? There are others that will converge much more quickly." I knew that there were others, and I knew what "converge much more quickly" meant, but what I didn't know was what others there were or how they'd converge more quickly. I was able to throw him off, but I remember the fear of being caught that day.

So now I want to learn. I want to understand. I'm looking forward to that masters program I'll be starting in the fall, a Masters in Teaching Math through the University of Idaho's Engineering Outreach Program.

Explaining this to another teacher today, I was told that now I'm experiencing the difference between learning and merely completing a degree.

I'm looking forward to this.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

White Girls Can't Do Math???

I sincerely hope that I don't have one of these subconscious biases:
That’s the conclusion of new research from University of Texas researchers, which suggests that the teachers of today are just as convinced that white girls can’t do math as their 1950s predecessors.

Researchers looked at student grades, test scores and how teachers rated their students’ abilities. They found that while on average teachers rate minority students lower than their white male counterparts, these differences disappear once grades are taken into account. (Those findings are consistent with decades of research on the minority gap in math achievement.) The new research, however, found bias against white girls that can’t be explained by their academic performance.
When I first read about this article over at Joanne Jacobs' site, I was convinced that the focus of these stereotypes had to be elementary teachers--cue Barbie's "math is harrrrrrd." Imagine my shock to learn that the problem is with high school teachers.

Wow.

Hope

Hope is all you have left when you're tired of being afraid.
--unknown

Hope is not a battle plan.
--old Army saying

Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.
--Sir Francis Bacon

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

This School Is Out Of Control

If I have planted my standard on any hill on this blog, it's that what students and teachers do on their own time is of no concern to the school unless and until that behavior significantly affects school activities--and I don't mean just any effect, I mean that the effect has to be significant before the school can react. If a school can suspend a student over this, are there any limits to its power to suspend students?
From Facebook communications to tweets, you're no doubt already aware that nothing you do online is truly private. But should you have a reasonable expectation that your superiors aren't actively spying on you? That's the question a lot of people are asking after Garrett High School in Indiana expelled a high school senior for cursing over Twitter during off-school hours.

The tweet in question dropped the F-bomb a number of times, but was otherwise non-threatening. It was posted at 2:30 a.m. — a time when the student in question was most assuredly not at school. Still, despite the evidence, the school stands by its decision to expel the student.
What the kid does at 2:30 in the morning is his parents' responsibility, not his school's.

If You're A Union Supporter, Why Do You Think People Would Voluntarily Reject A Union?

Is it because they're stupid? Or do you have another idea?
Graduate student workers at the University of Minnesota again voted against forming a union.

About 62 percent of those who voted last week opposed the union, the state Bureau of Mediation Services reported on Monday, adding to a string of failed attempts to organize the students who teach classes and conduct research on the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses.

More than two-thirds of the 4,400 workers who were eligible to cast ballots in the weeklong vote did so.
The article also contains a graphic with the following information:
RECENT VOTES AGAINST UNION

Year Vote

1990 No: 67 percent

1999 No: 58 percent

2005 No: 58 percent

2012 No: 62 percent

Source: Bureau of Mediation Services
So again I ask, union supporters, why would people repeatedly and voluntarily reject a union?

The End of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" At Our Service Academies

The Spectrum club was mentioned briefly in our educators summit at the Coast Guard Academy, and is mentioned in this piece about GLBT clubs and events at other academies:
At the beginning of the school year, gay pride events at a military academy with titles like "condom Olympics" and "queer prom" would have been unthinkable. This week, they're a reality.

Cadets in uniform at Norwich University, the nation's oldest private military academy, participated Monday in sessions about handling bullying and harassment as part of the school's first gay pride week. The events are believed to be the first of their kind on a military campus...

Until last year, only a select few at Norwich knew of the sexual orientation of Joshua Fontanez, 22, of Browns Mills, N.J., a past president of the student government who quietly laid the groundwork for the school's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Allies Club, which held its first meeting the day the law ended...

In December, a group of students at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., formed a group called Spectrum, which has many of the same goals as the Norwich club. A similar organization with the same name is being formed in New York at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

For many of the newly open student leaders, the changes brought by the end of "don't ask, don't tell" haven't overwhelmed, despite the years-long political wrangling that culminated in the policy change.

"It was definitely a big change, but it happened over such a long period of time for me that it didn't seem like that big of a deal," said Coast Guard Academy Senior Chip Hall, 21, of Monterrey (sic), Calif...

A group of alumni called Knights Out will hold a campus dinner this weekend and is expecting at least a dozen cadets to attend, said the group's director, Sue Fulton, a 1980 West Point graduate who was among the first women admitted to the academy...

Some members of Norwich's Christian Fellowship have been uncomfortable with gay student club, but the two organizations have worked together, with members of each attending some of the other's meetings, said biology emeritus professor Carlos Pinkham, the Christian group's faculty adviser.

"We make it clear to them that we use the bible (sic) as our guide and that as a result we can't condone the stuff they do," Pinkham said. "But the Bible is also equally clear, in fact, even more clear. … Being judgmental about the sin without extending love to the sinner is another form of sin."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bringing Discredit Upon Our Profession

In what more positive language could you describe these actions?
An open records request filed by Milwaukee conservative radio personality Mark Belling has revealed that freedom of speech in some public schools is reserved for those who agree with the unions.

According to information obtained by Belling, a custodian working for a private contractor at Whitewater (Wisconsin) High School was recently fired by her employer after two school employees, including the supervisor of custodians, demanded that she remove a pro-Scott Walker sign from her car and she refused.

If you recall, Big Labor is attempting to recall Gov. Walker over his new law that curtails collective bargaining privileges for public employee unions.
You lefties can whine about this next statement all you want but I know it to be true:
Readers who think this kind of rigid, narrow-minded thinking isn’t seeping into the classroom are kidding themselves.

Why Might California Be Doomed?

Here is yet another data point:
It's hard to believe now, but Jerry Brown once ran for President as a reformer who favored a flat tax with a 13% top federal rate. That was 1992. Nowadays in his second stint as Governor, he's running to give California alone a higher top income-tax rate...

All of this is said to be necessary to balance a $9.2 billion budget deficit. So what else is new? Mr. Brown expects about $9 billion in added revenue, up from $7 billion in his first package. But the state Legislative Analyst's Office has already told Mr. Brown that he's hallucinating to think he can get that much money from a corner of the taxpayer base.

The top 1% in California pay between one third and half of all state income tax revenues, depending on the condition of the economy. California already has the fourth highest income tax in the nation....

None of these facts matter to Mr. Brown or his allies because the tax increase is simply about the political power to deliver money to the interests that live off government.
What happens when that golden goose is killed or the turnip is bloodless? I fear that day is not far off.

Race-Pimp-In-Chief

Henry Louis Gates incident: "Cambridge police acted stupidly"
Backtrack: Had the beer summit

Major Hasan, Fort Hood shooter incident: Cautions against jumping to conclusions about the role of Hasan's religion in the shootings
Why would anyone jump to conclusions: Hasan shouted "Allahu ackbar" before shooting

Trayvon Martin shooting: "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon"
Information trickling out: Martin got shot while/after attacking the neighborhood watchman
By the way: Prior to last week, had you ever heard of a person described by the media as a "white Hispanic"? And does the guy shown in this video look white to you? What possible (decent and legitimate) motive could certain groups and/or organizations have for describing the shooter this way? *pauses while crickets chirp*

Instapundit excerpted the following from this column:
We went from the beer summit to Trayvon Martin’s resemblance to the boy the president never had. In each case, facts did not matter. . . . The role of a president is to rein in the mob, not to unleash it. The latter is what community organizers do; the former is what makes statesmen. Yet on issue after issue — anti-terrorism, global warming, government ethics, and racial relations — a frenzied mob, egged on by the media and demagogues like Barack Obama, have almost stormed the jail, only to dissipate when met by either evidence, or the knowledge that the incarcerated was one of their own — as if they had never screamed and threatened in the first place.
I have no respect for this president. So much for post-racial.

Update, March 30, 2012:
Add this from John Hinderaker of PowerLine Blog:
President Obama has fanned the flames of hatred in the Trayvon Martin case, and has not said a single critical word about the outrageous actions of the New Black Panthers, who offered a $10,000 bounty on George Zimmerman–the same New Black Panthers on whose behalf Eric Holder quashed a federal criminal prosecution; or of Spike Lee, who tweeted a wrong address for Zimmerman, presumably to facilitate harassment or even murder; or of the many liberals who have posted on the @killzimmerman Twitter feed; or of the many other Democrats and liberals who have indulged in an orgy of hate with respect to Mr. Zimmerman. President Obama’s interest in the victims of violence is selective: he cares if they look like the hypothetical son he doesn’t have.
It's bad enough that people fell for Obama's lies the first time. Will enough of them fall for them again?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blaming Everyone But Themselves

How Green Gullibility, Hyperpartisanship Are Wrecking The Climate Movement
One of the biggest intellectual failures of the global green movement against climate change is the persistent failure of its leaders and spokespeople to grasp the way their own advocacy fatally undermines their credibility. They blame cunning, unscrupulous and well funded enemies for disasters that their own inaccuracies, overstatements and disingenuous advocacy have brought on their movement.
The rest of the piece is just as succinct and just as correct.

Retaking the SAT As An Adult

I found a good "hook" paragraph here that doesn't include some of the foul language sprinkled throughout the rest of the article:
But there was only one way to find out if I truly am dumber than I was 18 years ago. I had to take the SAT one more time, cold. With no preparation of any sort. And I had to do it under the exact same conditions as before: using bubble sheets, a No. 2 pencil, a standard calculator (I sold my TI-81 graphing calculator after I graduated. OOPS!). And I had to do it in the time allotted. So that's exactly what I did. I went to the College Board and printed out a sample test, then sat down and took it from beginning to end. Here now is what transpired.
How did he do? He scored somewhat higher than he did when he was in high school. His one piece of advice in this obscenity-sprinkled piece?
If you're 35 years old and you're thinking about retaking the SAT as a kind of blog stunt, I would highly recommend you avoid it.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Why I Like Craigslist

Besides the invention of money itself, has there been a greater boon to commerce than the internet? And on the internet, one of the most useful tools for "everyman" is Craigslist. I love selling things on Craigslist.

Several years ago I had a van conversion. It was a 1976 Ford Econoline, and the back was fully rigged as an RV, and I needed to sell it. I put it on Craigslist for $2500. Concurrently, there was a young couple in Davis who was planning on selling their belongings, buying a van, outfitting it for travel, and looking for a new place to settle down--they'd know it when they got there. They'd budgeted $8000 for a minivan, and a couple thousand more for a camp stove, tent, etc. While looking for a minivan, though, they came across my van--not as nice (and not as good mileage) as they were looking for, but much cheaper, and you can buy a lot of gas for the $5500 and 10mpg difference. After two visits they bought it, paying my full asking price in cash.

In the past, I'd have had to pay to put a small ad on a large page in a medium-sized newspaper and hope that someone in the area saw it and wanted what I was selling. With Craigslist, anyone can find what I'm selling, complete with pictures.

About 5 years ago I bought a car and needed to sell my 2001 Kia Rio. It was between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I knew there would only be two types of people who would look at that car--someone looking for a cheap car for a Christmas present for a teenager, and someone desperate for a car. I put the Kelley Blue Book printout in the window and listed the car on Craigslist for maybe $100 under that. As I predicted, the first couple that showed up was looking for a Christmas present for their teenage daughter--but they arrived in a Chrysler 300, so I knew they weren't going to drive the Kia away! The next to look at the car was a woman and her approximately 20-year-old daughter and few-months-old granddaughter; daughter had recently totaled her car and needed transport. Mom found my car on Craigslist, they came to look at it, she got a carfax report while I got it smogged, and on their next visit they drove my Kia away. She even gave me $1 more than my asking price, but being an honest guy, I gave her a dollar coin in change :-) I'd asked $3999 for the car.

A month and a half ago I bought a new video camera (click on the video label and scroll through the February 2012 posts) and wanted to sell my old standard definition video camera. How did I go about selling it? Craigslist, of course! I placed an ad, added some pictures of the equipment, and linked to a couple videos I'd made using that camera. And I waited. And each week I reposted the ad, being told by people that that camera was yesterday's technology and that no one would want it, but also believing that there's always somebody who wants what you're selling. So I waited more. I got a couple responses, but they were probably from my good friend Mrs. Abacha of Ghana or from a very nice and generous banker in Kenya. So I waited. Yesterday I started getting what seemed to be a genuine response. We met this morning and the man explained why he was looking for this older type of camera specifically--his wife had old tapes that hadn't been transferred to new technology, and they needed a camera that would play those tapes. He brought a tape along, it played beautifully in my camera, he ensured the recording function of the camera worked, and he gave me my full asking price in cash.

Some might suggest that since I got my full asking price each time, that perhaps I'm pricing my items too low. I don't think so. I did research and priced my items at what I determined was a fair and reasonable price for both buyer and seller. The evidence above indicates that I seem to have done a good job.

The $60 I got today will go into my "summer trip fund", which already has a couple hundred dollars in it (much of it having been previously earmarked for my forfeited Iceland trip from last summer).

So far it's been a productive day. I love Craigslist!

Here's what I just sold for $60:



Friday, March 23, 2012

Income Gap Explained By Education?

The chart is fairly compelling:
Today, we will look at the link between education and income. Recent census data comparing the educational attainment of householders and income shows about as clearly as you can that America's income gap is really an education gap and not the result of tax cuts for the rich.

The chart below shows that as people's income rise, so too does the likelihood that they have a college degree or higher. By contrast, those with the lowest incomes are most likely to have a high school education or less. Just 8% of those at the lowest income level have a college degree while 78% of those earning $250,000 or more have a college degree or advanced degree. At the other end of the income scale, 69% of low-income people have a high school degree or less, while just 9% of those earning over $250,000 have just a high school degree.

Really? No One Thought This Was A Bad Idea Before The Letter Was Sent Out?

It amazes me how often people in my chosen field choose not to think!
A spokeswoman for an elementary school in North Carolina has apologized for a "poorly worded" letter sent to parents in February, which suggested the students wear "animal print" clothing in honor of Black History Month...

Ingram said the students had been studying the history of Africans who had been forcibly brought to America as slaves and that the clothing suggestion was meant to honor their cultural heritage, not be a commentary on modern African-American clothing...

The full text of the letter reads:

"Parents, during the month of February, Western Union students have been studying Black History. On Tuesday, February 28, WUES will participate in a Black History Day. We will have speakers from 8-10am. We are encouraging students to dress in 'African American attire.' If you do not have this, students could wear animal print clothing or shirts with animals native to Africa (zebras, giraffes, lions, elephants, etc.) Thank you!"
I know they were going for "African imagery" or something like that, but--well, just wow!

Why I Don't Support Socialism

This column by John Stossel in Reason is absolutely correct:
The idea that government can “make life fair” is intuitively appealing to people—at least until they think about it. I’ll try to help...

People have a range of talents and ambitions. Some will serve consumers better than others and therefore make more money. Government should not worry about that.

It should spend its time abolishing political privileges so that people compete fairly—in the marketplace.

Good Statistics, Bad Statistics

The good:
In other words, when one of Twitter's newest data scientists applies his craft to McDonald's menu, his algorithm automatically extracts the only food on it that any of us should probably even consider eating.
The bad:
An AP "Fact Check" on the correlation of US energy production with gasoline prices takes us to the border of supply and demand before veering off into a comedy club...

Oh, for heaven's sake - the question is, does additional US production result in lower prices than would have otherwise prevailed? If, just to seize an example, producers only ramp up US production in response to shortages and rising prices elsewhere, a simple statistical analysis such as done here will "prove" that more production is always associated with higher prices.
If you have any recommendations for "the ugly" (as they relate to statistics, not to any pictures of me you can find on my blog, MikeAT--and by the way, you're one to talk!), please leave them in the comments.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Anyone Stupid Enough Not To Know This Is Inappropriate Is Too Stupid To Teach

I wonder how anyone could possibly think that this was a reasonable, legitimate school assignment:
A Virginia middle school teacher recently forced his students to support President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign by conducting opposition research in class against the Republican presidential candidates.

The 8th grade students, who attend Liberty Middle School in Fairfax County, were required to seek out the vulnerabilities of Republican presidential hopefuls and forward them to the Obama campaign...

No similar assignment was given to research Obama’s history, identify his weaknesses or pass them along to the Republican candidates.

John Torre, a spokesman on behalf of the Fairfax County Public School system, insists that students were never instructed to actually send their results to the Obama campaign.

“Instead, the teacher simply asked his students to find out the name of the office that would receive such information,” Torre wrote in an email to TheDC.
Because that wouldn't be creepy at all....

On the other hand, the guy's a liberal. He thought middle schoolers could do the work that Obama's paid hands couldn't do. That tells you all you need to know about the teacher's intelligence. Orrrrrrr, maybe he's right :-)

Complaints About iBooks

I can agree with numbers 1, 2, 6, 7, and 10. I'm curious, though--how was this information gathered? Supposedly these are teacher complaints about iBooks, but how do we know if teachers were even questioned?

Take this article with as much salt as you'd like, it makes for interesting reading either way.

I've written about iBooks before.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's Hard Not To Like This Exchange With Romney

A college-aged girl, of course:
"You're all for like 'yay freedom and all this stuff and yay pursuit of happiness,'" said the college-aged girl. "You know what would make me happy? Free birth control."

"Let me tell you something, if you're looking for free stuff that you don't have to pay for, vote for the other guy," Romney told the student. "That's what he's all about."
Yes, I'm familiar with Romneycare. That doesn't change this quote whatsoever.

And do I even need to comment on the intelligence of someone who doesn't think "yay freedom and all this stuff and yay pursuit of happiness" is important?

Can An iPad Cause A Plane To Crash?

My feeling is that if an iPad can bring a plane down, the plane isn't safe enough to fly in the first place:
Amid all the discussion about iPads in the cockpits of commercial and military airplanes, one question has remained unclear — what about during takeoff and landing? Passengers are supposed to turn these devices off, lest they interfere with aircraft avionics--at least, that's the line the FAA's been giving us, despite evidence to the contrary. Now the FAA is planning to investigate itself whether iPads, Kindles and other electronic devices really can harm a plane during crucial flight phases.
I made good use of my Kindle Fire during about 8 hrs of flying yesterday.

Thank You, RLH!

When I got back from the Coast Guard Academy last night, waiting for me was a book from Amazon. Turns out one of my readers sent me a book off my Amazon wish list!

Thank you. A genuine, heartfelt thank you.

More From The Coast Guard Academy

What a difference a day makes!
Monday:


Tuesday:
(The fog burned off as it got closer to noon.)


Other pictures and video:


Looks more like a high school ticket booth! (Then again, the high school at which I teach has more students.)


An appropriate quote for any of our Academies.


The superintendent's quarters. She's a 2-star admiral, USCGA Class of 1982.




Who wouldn't like this license plate?!!

And a view from the main entrance:

video

Monday, March 19, 2012

Scientiae Cedit Mare

The Coast Guard's motto is Semper Paratus, always ready; the Coast Guard Academy's motto is Scientiae Cedit Mare, the sea yields to knowledge. Both are appropriate for this fine institution.

With a student body of just over 1200 cadets, the USCGA is the smallest of our country's service academies. It looks and feels like the small school that it is, with both the benefits and the burdens that entails. Every cadet plays a role, everyone fits somehow.

I don't intend for this post to be a marketing gig for the Academy, as they do a fine job at their web site. I will, however, give my school's counselors a thorough briefing so that together, we can steer qualified and interested students into the life of humanitarian service that the Coast Guard offers.

Here I'll just offer a few pictures of this small New England "university" on the banks of the Thames (thaymz, not temz) River in New London, Connecticut:

click to enlarge










The cadet dining hall




The superintendent's quarters



You can see the submarine at the Navy submarine base across the river

It's an impressive institution, and the staff, faculty, and cadets are justifiably proud of it.

Update: It's a very "steep" campus, lots of stairs and slopes--and my knee held up just fine :)

Mohegan Sun

If there's a "downtown" Uncasville, I haven't seen it yet. It was sunset as we arrived at the hotel last night, and my impression was that the hotel is kind of remote. Fortunately, though, there's a shuttle bus to the nearby Indian casino.

Good Lord have mercy.

The Mohegan Sun rivals Nevada's casinos in size and grandeur--and word is that there's a larger MGM not too far away. The shopping area inside isn't as big or as impressive as the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace, or the Miracle Mile at Planet Hollywood, but the gaming floor made up for any other shortcomings. I had dinner at Johnny Rockets and then hit the slots. I couldn't find any Star Trek slots but I held my own on a Star Wars slot machine. I took my meager winnings to another machine, which proceeded to eat them, but the third slot allowed me to win most of it back. I didn't cover my dinner expense, but the entertainment I had in those couple hours was worth the cost.

It was a late night, especially considering that I got up at 3 am yesterday. The shuttle for the Coast Guard Academy leaves in less than an hour--I'm looking forward to a great day.

I doubt I'll have the energy to revisit the Mohegan Sun tonight.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Made It To Connecticut

I got up at 3am, my plane left Sacramento at 6, and after passing through Chicago, I landed in Providence, RI. An hour-long bus drive has brought me to the thriving metropolis of Uncasville, CT, just a few miles north of the Coast Guard Academy. The "Educators and Influencers Summit" will be held there tomorrow, as a few dozen of us learn what the Coast Guard Academy has to offer our students.

But for now, I'm off to the nearby casino--for the restaurants, of course!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Why Would Anyone Want To Strip With Their Mother?

Which word or phrase fits this group better, "wackadoos" or "cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs"?
A mother and her three children were arrested after stripping off and running stark naked around a Pennsylvania high school parking lot, while chanting and praying to Jesus, WTXF reported.

Sarah Butler, 44, daughters Joanne, 23, and Bessie, 22, and her 14-year-old son were taken into custody Friday afternoon after the bizarre incident unfolded in front of shocked students at Upper Darby High School, just outside Philadelphia.

The incident was sparked after Sarah Butler repeatedly tried to take another one of her sons out of the school but was refused. The boy is her biological son, but she does not have legal rights to him, sources told the TV station.

A Principled Leftie--and He's an Attorney, Too!

I have to give this guy credit for his support of the First Amendment:
I despise Rush Limbaugh. I despise almost everything I have ever heard him say. I wish that he were no longer on the air. That is why I write today to defend him against those who call for him to be silenced...

The First Amendment stands for principles like that espoused by the Supreme Court in West Virginia v. Barnette: "Of there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein"...

The First Amendment requires neither tact nor politeness. It requires that we permit all views to set up stalls in the marketplace of ideas, and we let that marketplace decide which ideas prevail.

Rush Limbaugh has a right to his views. Just as important, his fans have a right to hear him. Those of us who disagree with him have a right to fight him, but we must do so on our own. Using the government to support our view is constitutionally intolerable. Trying to bully him off the air is wrong.

Some call for the Federal Communications Commission to pull Clear Channel's broadcast licenses if they keep Limbaugh on the air, because they believe that Rush Limbaugh does not "serve the public interest." This is inaccurate and not permissible under the Constitution.

It is a terrifying prospect that the government might review the political and social positions of a broadcaster when deciding who gets access to the airwaves.

He's not hiding behind "lack of civility in public discourse", "I'm offended", "hate speech" arguments like too many of his fellow travelers on the left.

What Could Possibly Motivate A Teacher To Act This Way?

If the allegations in this story are true, I'll just shake my head in wonder:
A tenured teacher at a San Diego high school has been put on paid leave while the district investigates an allegation that she refused to allow a 14-year-old student to leave class to go to the toilet and instead told the girl to urinate in a bucket.

A claim filed by the student's attorney said the Feb. 22 actions of art teacher Gonja Wolf were meant "to humiliate and disgrace" the freshman at Patrick Henry High School.

The student was instructed to go to another room out of view of classmates, urinate in a bucket and then dump the urine in a sink, according to the claim.
I've written several posts on the topic of students' leaving class to use the bathroom, and glancing at these two, I see that my views on the subject have morphed over the years. Nowadays I let students leave as long as I'm not instructing--I don't take their phones first, but I toy with that idea (see the last link for the reference).

Friday, March 16, 2012

I Don't Believe In So-called Hate Crimes

Remember the case of the Rutgers student who streamed video of his roommate's gay encounter(s) over the internet, and when the roommate found out he jumped to his death off a bridge? Well, the former student has been found guilty:
A former Rutgers University student accused of spying on and intimidating his gay roommate by use of a hidden webcam was found guilty Friday of all counts -- including invasion of privacy and the more severe charges of bias intimidation -- in a case that thrust cyberbullying into the national spotlight.

Dharun Ravi, 20, was also found guilty of witness tampering, hindering apprehension and tampering with physical evidence, and could now face up to 10 years in jail and deportation to his native India...

Though Ravi and Molly Wei -- a fellow student who admitted to joining Ravi to watch the surreptitious encounter that others were alerted to via social media -- were charged in the wake of Clementi's suicide, they were not charged directly with his death.

Facing two counts of invasion of privacy, Wei reached a plea deal in May that required her to testify against her friend and former high school classmate as well as to complete a three-year program on cyberbullying and do 300 hours of community service.
I've never been comfortable with the "thought police" mentality that of necessity accompanies hate crimes. Look at his list of crimes--are they not enough? Why do we need to add an amorphous additional crime, the sole purpose of which is to add more time to this man's sentence? It's too subject to whim and abuse.

Update, 3/17/12: I hope that this case shines a disinfecting sunlight on the travesty of justice that is hate crimes legislation:
A longtime gay rights activist in New York, Bill Dobbs, also was troubled by the case.

"As hate crime prosecutions mount, the problems with these laws are becoming more obvious ... how they compromise cherished constitutional principles," Dobbs said. "Now a person gets tried not just for misdeeds, but for who they are, what they believe, what their character is."

Happy Founders Day

On this date in 1802, Congress approved legislation establishing the US Military Academy at the Revolutionary War fortress of West Point.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

New Military vs. the Old Military

I read the following on an email list of which I am a member and received permission to repost it here because I found it to be hilarious as well as illuminating:
I was the "Army guy" at the Air War College for four years. I spoke with LeMay on a number of occasions when he would come up for "Big Bomber" week or speak. He said it was time to retire when he realized that when he called a SAC alert the first facility at every base that had to be fully functioning was their Child Care Center.
LeMay retired in 1965, the conversation above occurred about 20 years later.

One more data point in the "greatest generation" v. "baby boomers" tussle.

Does This Really Merit A Visit To The Principal's Office?

A "professional educator" made this decision:
Technically, running an NCAA tournament office pool is illegal if you collect money. After all, that's unsanctioned sports gambling. Yet that doesn't stop people from organizing and funding dozens of NCAA betting efforts every spring across the nation.

Unfortunately for Omaha fifth-grader Max Kohll, his bracket competition wasn't one that eluded official attention. In fact, it got him sent to the principal's office.
Seriously?
Seriously.
OK, so he was charging $5 to get in. Here's how I would have handled it:
Me: Max, that's not appropriate at school. Please put it away now and do that at home.
Max: OK, Mr. RotLC.
See? Not so difficult to deal with.

The Practical Costs of Network Security

I got some new computers for my stats lab today.

When they arrived at the district warehouse, they were loaded with Windows 7. By the time they got to me, they had Windows XP on them. My district apparently only supports WinXP--I wonder how often they upgrade to new operating systems on all those Macs?

The district likes to make sure its network is "secure", so on PCs (but not Macs) there are all sorts of login scripts and passwords and such--hoops that must be jumped through before the computer will even fully boot up. Such is the case with these new computers as well.

I had students using some of these for a project write-up in stats class today. MS Word, that's all, pretty standard stuff. Some had difficulty saving a file onto their flash drive from within Word; the work-around was to save the file to the desktop and then to move it from the desktop to the flash drive.

Is there truly no way to have both reasonable computer/network security and reasonable utility for the user?

Geniuses of the Left

Remember all the protests in the Wisconsin capitol last year? Some of the protesters have been tried. I hope these towering intellects aren't considering practicing law:
In a nutshell, the protesters claim that when police told the group to vacate the building because it was closing, the cops never told each one individually. They also believe that police would have been able to do their job (close the capitol) even if the protesters were left to sit in the rotunda. The money line comes when one of them claims he would have eventually gotten bored and left.
There's video at the link. Hear them in their own words. You could almost feel sorry them if they weren't such losers.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How Busy Have I Been?

Too busy to recognize that it's Pi Day today!

A Tax Increase For Me and My Friends

The economy isn't so great, and California spends way too much money--certainly more than it brings in--so the usual suspects are going to try to raise taxes:
After weeks of battling in public and negotiating behind the scenes, Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Federation of Teachers have reached a compromise on a November tax initiative.

The deal would result in a smaller sales tax hike and larger tax increase on the wealthy than the Democratic governor wanted. CFT had been circulating an initiative with no sales tax hike and a two-step increase on earners starting at $1 million.

"This united effort makes victory more likely and will go a long way toward balancing our budget and protecting our schools, universities and public safety," Brown said in a prepared statement Wednesday afternoon.


Update: Remember this post from last Friday? My closing line was definitely predictive.

Loss of Pension

That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight
Losing my pension...
--with apologies to REM

There's no evidence this guy broke the law. Yes, he's a horrible person, but if that's sufficient reason to lose your pension, then maybe the California teacher pension system will have enough money in it when I retire:
Angered by a 41-year-old Modesto teacher who moved in with an 18-year-old student, a California lawmaker is crafting legislation that would strip teachers of their retirement benefits in such cases.

Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2012/03/teach-a-high-school-class-date-a-student----lose-your-pension.html#storylink=cpy
Look at the picture in the linked article, then to REM's modified lyrics above. Aren't they appropriate?

Let's Hear It For The Fighting Sioux

And screw the NCAA if they don't like it:
The fight over the Fighting Sioux is headed for the ballot box in North Dakota.

Supporters of the nickname for University of North Dakota sports teams, which critics say is offensive to Native Americans, appear to have more than enough signatures to put the question to voters. Lee Ann Oliver, an election specialist for North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger, told FoxNews.com that the supporters had 1,449 more signatures than necessary to ensure a June 12 vote on the issue. At least 13,452 signatures are required.

"It's a done deal unless arguments on Thursday tell us something else," Oliver said.

The North Dakota Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the case Thursday. The state's Board of Higher Education has said the law -- which mandates the university to use the Fighting Sioux nickname and American Indian head logo -- is unconstitutional. The board is suing Jaeger in an attempt to block the vote in June.

This Takes Hero Worship Too Far

This is just not appropriate:
The Democrats in one county are so swept up in the cult of Obama that they have replaced the stars on our national flag with the image of their Dear Supreme Leader.


FoxNews has updated information:
An American flag with President Obama's image in place of the stars flew over a Florida county's Democrat headquarters long enough to enrage local veterans who called the altered banner "a disgrace."

Lake County Democratic Party officials took down the flag, which flew just below a standard Old Glory on the flagpole outside headquarters in Tavares following complaints by local veterans.
Really? Only veterans complained? What is wrong with people?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

If You Consider The President's (Or Your Own) Race When Deciding Whether Or Not To Vote For Him, You're A Racist

I stand by the title of this post while offering this ad.

All Children Should Get To Go To Their Neighborhood School

It's the school district's responsibility to have rooms and teachers for students, not parents' responsibility to find a school with room for their children:
Dozens of parents in one Lincoln community are being forced to camp out for three nights in hopes of getting their kids into a kindergarten class.

Lincoln Crossing Elementary is so impacted there only a limited amount of open spots available. Registration begins at 7 a.m. on Tuesday.

The Newest Political Minefield in Curriculum

You'd think it would be evolution vs. creationism, but you'd be behind the times:
After many years in which evolution was the most contentious issue in science education, climate change is now the battle du jour in school districts across the country.

The fight could heat up further in April, when several national bodies are set to release a draft of new science standards that include detailed instruction on climate change.

Any Conservative Who's Spent More Than 10 Minutes On The Internet Knows That Liberals Are Far More Intolerant Than Conservatives

Pew Research offers some interesting information in one of its recent surveys:
Politics can be a sensitive subject and a number of SNS users have decided to block, unfriend, or hide someone because of their politics or posting activities...Liberals are the most likely to have taken each of these steps to block, unfriend, or hide. In all, 28% of liberals have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on SNS because of one of these reasons, compared with 16% of conservatives and 14% of moderates.
My statistics students took a test today on comparing proportions (28% vs 16%) and should be able to determine that if the proportions were exactly the same, the probability of getting samples with this 12% difference is effectively zero. This result is statistically significant and we therefore conclude that the proportion of liberals who block people or comments with which they disagree (i.e., are intolerant) is demonstrably higher than that of conservatives.

QED.

Local Boy Makes Good

This former student of mine isn't a boy anymore; no, he's becoming a very impressive man:
MIDN 1/C Cameron Thornberry is from Sacramento, CA where he attended Rio Americano High School and graduated in 2008. After graduation he entered the Naval Academy as a member of the great class of 2012. Throughout his four years at USNA, MIDN Thornberry participated in myriad activities and organizations in pursuit of his passion towards both aviation and philosophy. An Aerospace Engineering major with an astounding GPA of 3.92, he is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society, the Naval Academy Soaring Team training squadron (VT-NA), the Socratic Society, and the Jiu Jitsu team. Professionally he assumed and excelled at his positions of Squad Leader, Company Academics Officer, and, most recently, Battalion Academics Officer. Upon graduation, MIDN Thornberry will train to become a naval aviator.
He was a licensed civil pilot before entering USNA.

Monday, March 12, 2012

More Pictures

In this post I talked about grandpa's 100th birthday party and added a couple of pictures of family members who were able to attend. Today's pictures are different.

Throughout the entire party was a slideshow of pictures from grandpa's life. Two of them really struck a chord with me--maybe because I miss both my grandmothers so much. Here are the pictures, both with grandma and grandpa:

And just under 30 years later....

NY Times Makes A Grand Admission

What other way is there to interpret this, except to say that the Supreme Court's liberals are ideologues while the conservatives are open-minded?
For the first time since at least 1953, when Chief Justice Earl Warren joined the court, the justices are divided along not only ideological but also partisan lines: its five more conservative members were all appointed by Republican presidents and its four more liberal members by Democrats.

Add to that the conventional wisdom about which votes in the health care case are fixed in concrete: the four justices appointed by Democrats are thought certain to vote to uphold the law, and Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed by the elder George Bush, is believed to be a sure vote to strike it down.
According to the not-quite-conservative New York Times, the only votes up for grabs are conservative. Justice Kagan, who worked on Obamacare before becoming a justice, won't even recuse herself for a conflict of interest.

You know what I'm telling you.

How Much Has Changed In 9 Months?

Not a lot--and the election's getting closer.

I Have Difficulty Even Imagining This (Low) Level of Professionalism

If the facts are as stated here, then yes, tar and feathers are appropriate:
Mr. Vargas is fortunate enough to have in his charge one Jada Williams, a 13-year-old eighth grader who voluntarily took on some difficult extra work: reading Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life and writing an essay on the subject. Frederick Douglass is dangerous reading, truly radical stuff. Miss Williams, like most of the students in her dysfunctional school, is black. Most of the people being paid to go through the motions of teaching them are white. Coming across the famous passage in which Douglass quotes the slavemaster Auld, Miss Williams was startled by the words: “If you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there will be no keeping him. It will forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master.” The situation seemed to her familiar, and her essay was a blistering indictment of the failures of the largely white faculty of her school: “When I find myself sitting in a crowded classroom where no real instruction is taking place I can say history does repeat itself.”

Her teacher was so offended by the essay that she circulated copies of it to the rest of the faculty and to the principal. Miss Williams, an A student, suddenly began to receive Ds. According to accounts, her mother received harassing telephone calls from teachers who suggested that she was in some way disturbed rather than merely observant. She was forced eventually to withdraw from the school and enroll in an even worse one. (The Blaze has more.)

The best Mr. Vargas could say was this: “We could have responded better. This is a situation that was definitely not handled the best way.” To say the least: Teachers refused to show Miss Williams’s mother the schoolwork she had allegedly performed poorly on, and they refused to answer many of her questions about her daughter’s performance and alleged behavioral problems.
Is it possible the child's mistaken, that learning actually is occurring at her school? If she's correct, why might the teachers not be teaching? I can come up with several possible answers, and in very few of them does the fault lie either entirely with the teachers or entirely with the students.

But none of that excuses the targeting of a student who says in an essay something teachers don't like.

Update, 3/13/12: Colossus of Rhodey has what I consider to be a reasonable take on that story, concluding thusly:
But my gut instinct tells me that a lot on the right are jumping on this incident merely as a means to go after public schooling, teachers unions and Democrats in general, though this is short-sighted in many respects. The latter, of course, does hold a disproportionate amount of influence over the former two. But if such was written by a student in another arena -- one not controlled by liberals/Democrats -- would the Right be so vociferous in this student's defense? I tend to doubt it. Most of the time the Right [usually correctly] criticizes the quick use of the racism card when it comes to such matters. But if, say, Ms. Williams attended an affluent suburban school and used Douglass' essay to lament the lack of teaching African-American history as a component of an overall US history course? Would the Right then be as quick to take up her cause?

Again, since the Left does control so much of [inner-city] public schooling, they do share a disporportionate amount of blame for the state of these schools. But I wouldn't be so hasty to blame teachers for "not teaching" these children; I would place more blame on [liberal] administrators, politicians and like-minded teachers who believe the rights of chronically disruptive children are just as important as those of children like Ms Williams. That's the real problem with such schools -- teaching cannot occur if classrooms are too frequently zones of chaos. Teachers are told by administrators not to send kids out of class, and administrators want to keep school discipline figures down. So, it becomes a vicious circle whereby the misfits get away with [everything short of] murder. Young Ms. Williams, bless her, is very probably blissfully unaware about what really transpires in the school hierarchy ... and how "the game is played." Thus, she blames the only thing she deals with everyday: her teachers.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Farrakhan At Berkeley

Any liberal see the hypocrisy problems in this short snip?
UC President Mark Yudof weighed in on the Farrakhan appearance, writing in an open letter that "we cannot as a society allow what we regard as vile speech to lead us to abandon the cherished value of free speech."

The Nation of Islam leader seemed to relish the controversy, according to the paper, telling the crowd in the nearly full 700-seat auditorium that opposition to him was a sign of slave-master mentality by white America.

Farrakhan at one point briefly adopted a faux Asian accent and used gibberish after asking the audience if they had ever seen the Chinese picketing, drawing a gasp from some in the crowd.

He garnered a standing ovation at the end.
I assure you, we conservatives see them.

An Appropriate Use Of Government Money?

You decide:
No more of those awkward moments, placing a box of condoms on the checkout stand, staring at the ground and hoping the cashier doesn't look too closely at what you're buying.

And therefore, public health officials hope, no more unprotected sex among teens – or at least less of it.

Sacramento County teens can now order free condoms by mail, through a California Department of Public Health program that aims to cut soaring rates of sexually transmitted diseases among the young...

Youths 12 to 19 – old enough under California law to consent to medical care for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of STDs – can now order condoms from www.TeenSource.org, the health council's sex-education website. They receive 10 condoms, lubricant and a brochure on safe sex, all in a nondescript envelope, and they can reorder up to once a month.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/02/23/4284430/new-program-mails-free-condoms.html#storylink=cpy

I wonder what would happen if I handed one of my students a condom if he/she asked me for one. Would it be more, or less, appropriate, since I'm a real person and not a faceless drone in a packaging room somewhere?
Although condoms are widely available at pharmacies, Moy said teens often feel too embarrassed to buy them or can't afford them. Condoms can cost about $2 each for a small box. Buying larger quantities – which teens may not be able to afford – can bring the price down to about $1 each.
This is absolutely absurd, unless they're buying gold-plated condoms. Amazon has them for much less than $1 ea, as does CVS, Walmart, Costco, etc. Someone too embarrassed to purchase condoms at a store should not be assisted by the government in having sex.

Just Feel Like Rehashing This Post From Last Summer

The Smarter You Are, The More Likely It Is You Dismiss Global Warming (or at least the threat posed by it)

When Art and Environmentalism Clash

Saw this on Althouse and thought it pretty funny:
What is the carbon footprint of the 340-ton rock transported on a 196-wheel vehicle on an 11-day journey to an art museum in L.A.?

And why doesn't The New York Times, celebrating the project on its website front page, question the environmentalism of this project?

It's art precisely because it has no practical use. Meanwhile, driving a mid-sized car or turning on an incandescent lightbulb is an environmental sin, characteristic of our ordinary lives, for which the NYT never tires of shaming us.
Let's subsidize more art majors in our universities, though.

How Are Things In Wisconsin?

The governor is in a recall battle because he signed Act 10--you remember, the "war against unions" that caused the Democrats in the legislature to leave the state so they wouldn't have to vote on it? (quite mature, those Dems) Well, the law's been in place for awhile now, how's it going? Have teachers become indentured servants?
While there is no disputing the divisiveness and political bitterness Act 10 has created, the law that redefined collective bargaining in Wisconsin has made a dramatic difference for the state’s financially struggling school districts, according to a report slated for release this week...

Wisconsin school districts have realized significant savings either through the implementation of collective bargaining changes or the threat of them, according to an analysis by the Michigan-based Education Action Group Foundation, known as EAG, a nonprofit research organization promoting school spending reform.

The pointed report, titled “The Bad Old Days of Collective Bargaining: Why Act 10 Was Necessary for Wisconsin Public Schools,” devotes plenty of its pages to applauding the collective bargaining reforms led by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, but it backs up the assertions with some telling numbers.

So what did this heinous act do?
Act 10 stripped collective bargaining for most unionized public employees in Wisconsin, limiting negotiations to wage only, and only up to the rate of inflation. It also requires teachers and other public workers to contribute 5.8 percent to their state pensions, and at least 12.6 percent of their health care premiums.
The horror.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Friday, March 09, 2012

A Poem About Our Liberal Friends

Getting There From Here by Tarzana Joe.

Paying For Higher Ed/Considerations of the "Public Good" of Higher Ed

Some very interesting points from the Chronicle of Higher Ed:
Rick Scott, Florida's governor, created a firestorm recently when he suggested that Florida ought to focus more of its education spending on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and less on liberal arts. Scott got this one right: We should focus higher-education dollars on the fields most likely to benefit everyone, not just the students who earn the degrees. Scott, however, missed another part of the equation: We need to focus more attention on the students who are being left behind, the millions of college and high-school dropouts.

Over the past 25 years, the total number of students in college has increased by about 50 percent. But the number of students graduating with degrees in STEM subjects has remained more or less constant...

In 2009 the United States graduated 89,140 students in the visual and performing arts, more than in computer science, math, and chemical engineering combined and more than double the number of visual-and-performing-arts graduates in 1985.

There is nothing wrong with the arts, psychology, and journalism, but graduates in these fields have lower wages and are less likely to find work in their fields than graduates in science and math. Moreover, more than half of all humanities graduates end up in jobs that don't require college degrees, and those graduates don't get a big income boost from having gone to college.

Most important, graduates in the arts, psychology, and journalism are less likely to create the kinds of innovations that drive economic growth. Economic growth is not the only goal of higher education, but it is one of the main reasons taxpayers subsidize higher education through direct government college support, as well as loans, scholarships, and grants. The potential wage gains for college graduates is reason enough for students to pursue a college education. We add subsidies to the mix, however, because we believe that education has positive spillover benefits for society. One of the biggest of those benefits is the increase in innovation that highly educated workers theoretically bring to the economy.

Thus, an argument can be made for subsidizing students in fields with potentially large spillovers, such as microbiology, chemical engineering, and computer science. But there is little justification for subsidizing sociology, dance, and English majors. (all boldface is mine--Darren)

Teachers Want To Make California's Budgeting Problems Worse

Who says so? Governor Brown, in the San Francisco Chronicle:
Gov. Jerry Brown previewed his pitch for a package of five-year tax increases in a meeting with The Chronicle's editorial board Tuesday. By his own admission, it's a complicated argument and a tough sell - especially in comparison with the populist millionaires tax being pushed by the California Federation of Teachers.

"It's pretty clear. We know that if you tax 2 percent of the people to benefit 98 percent, that's a winner with the 98 percent," Brown said. "That's simple. That's third-grade arithmetic. The problem is, we have to put something together that works - the other people don't have to do that"...

He also noted that a heavily top-weighted tax would amplify the volatility of a state tax structure that already sways wildly with boom and bust cycles.
He makes sense when he talks, but then he goes right into "must satisfy the Left" mode in his actions.

A Second Book Whose Mere Title Will Make Liberals' Heads Explode

Earlier this week in this post I linked to the first such book, here's the second :)

I Think Everyone's Ready For The Weekend

It was a rough day today.

I didn't sleep well last night.

My student teacher had a rough time in one of our classes. She's doing fine, but one class didn't run as smoothly as she would have liked. And she's not been feeling well.

At lunch today, one teacher got so "exercised" in the staff room that she shouted at another teacher names that far exceed anything Rush Limbaugh has said in the last 9 days.

I'm glad the weekend's here!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

One Of My Problems With Socialism Is What It Does To Your Soul

In Yellowstone you see signs telling you not to feed the wildlife. When asked, a ranger will tell you that the animals (think elk and bears and wolves and bison and such) would eventually grow dependent on humans and forget how to take care of themselves.

Why do we have such concerns about animals but not about people? Yes, I get it that some people struggle and need help. What I debate is how much "help", and for how long, if that help is paid for with taxpayer money instead of charity.

Welfare, food stamps, etc., are not rights. No one has a right to anything that I have to pay for. If I pay for it, it's at best an entitlement, and entitlements can change. I don't have to pay for your right to free speech or religion....

This woman, her soul has been destroyed by being on food stamps. She doesn't know right from wrong. She's lost a segment of her humanity. And yes, I'm quite sure part of the reason is government dependence:
Last fall, 24-year-old Amanda Clayton struck it big when she won $1 million playing the Michigan lottery. That’s life-changing. And in many ways, it was: she bought a new house and car. But in at least one way, it wasn’t: hidden cameras found she’s still using food stamps to pay for her meals....

“I feel that it’s okay because I mean, I have no income and I have bills to pay,” she added. “I have two houses.”

And when asked if she would keep doing it until the state cuts her off, she admitted “yeah,“ adding things are ”hard.”
Is she a 1 percenter? Maybe the "occupy" movement should camp out in front of one of her two houses.

Hat tip to NewsAlert.

Update, 3/8/12: That didn't take long:
The 24-year-old, who is unemployed, said she continued to receive public assistance...

But the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) said Wednesday that the woman was no longer receiving benefits and warned that people who continued to receive handouts in such circumstances may face criminal investigation and be required to pay back those benefits...

A bill to stop lottery winners from continuing to cash in on food assistance has passed the state House and lawmakers are pushing for the Senate to approve it as well.

Who's Dumber, The Teacher or the Administrators?

It's hard to determine from these paragraphs:
Student claims that a junior high teacher was moonlighting as a porn star were initially dismissed after school officials said they couldn't find any images of her on the Internet.

The investigation was quickly restarted, however, when other teachers showed them downloads from smartphones, and the officials realized the school computer system blocked access to sex sites.
I've said on this blog, too many times to count, that for the most part, what teachers (or students, for that matter) do on their own time is their own business. In this case, though, students know about the porn and could conceivably watch it. That creates an untenable educational environment and would merit intervention by the school.

Hat tip to reader MikeAT for the link.

Local Boy Makes Good

A student I had for both Alg 2 and pre-calculus, and who has earned a math degree and is now in a masters program while simultaneously working towards a teaching credential, has made Sports Illustrated two years in a row! Last year he made the cover, this year the online version (click on the link, then go to 18/26).

(I guess Facebook is good for something!)

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Does Head Start "Work", Whatever That Means, Or Not?

Define success, and then measure the degree of attainment. Otherwise, it's just a sacred cow:
Data collection for the first phase of the “National Head Start Impact Study,” began in 2002 and ended in 2006, tracking Head Start participants from ages 3- and 4-years old through first grade. In 2006, the Department of Health and Human Services extended the study to track these students through the end of third grade to determine whether Head Start yields lasting benefits.

In January 2010, after four years of “analysis,” the HHS Department finally released the results on Head Start’s impact on first graders. The study found that, compared to their control group peers, Head Start failed to boost students’ cognitive abilities across 41 measures. Moreover, first grade teachers reported that former Head Start students were actually less prepared in math than the non-Head Start students.

Now, in 2012, we await the final results of the follow-up study on Head Start’s impact on third graders. Data collection for that study was completed in 2008. Why hasn’t this information been released? It’s hard to imagine that it really takes researchers four years to analyze an evaluation of 5,000 youngsters. After all, the United States fought and won in the Pacific and Atlantic fronts of World War II in less time.
Why have the results not been made public? What would be a reasonable explanation for this?

You Don't Hear Things Like This From Academia Every Day

Diversity is more than just skin color and/or ethnicity? Perish the thought!
Diversity has long been the watchword in college admissions, and among elite schools in particular. Yet as Princeton professor Uwe Reinhardt writes, diversity advocates tend to focus on race and ethnicity to the exclusion of differences in class and culture. Reinhardt, whose son graduated from Princeton and joined the Marine Corps in 2001, notes with dismay that the school currently has just four veterans out of a campus of 5,249 undergraduates and 2,610 graduate students. Veterans, whatever their skin color, bring a dramatically different perspective to campus....
I cannot disagree.

Want The Official Report on the Infamous UC Davis Pepper Spraying Incident?

Of course you do, but you'll have to keep on waiting:
Facing threat of legal action by the union for University of California, Davis, campus police, officials scrapped plans to release a report today on the November pepper spraying of students and protesters in the UC Davis quad.

The report, the result of months of investigation by the security and investigations firm Kroll, was to be posted on the UC Davis website at noon today and unveiled at a public meeting on the campus later in the afternoon.

But, late Monday UC officials announced that the plan to release the report was being halted because of legal action by the Federated University Police Officers Association.

Yet Another Rally/Tantrum At The Capitol Over Higher Education Costs

Yesterday's rally downtown was the basis of several articles in the major Sacramento newspaper.

Originally the purpose of the rally was supposed to be to demonstrate dissatisfaction with higher education costs. We can discuss whether or not higher education, especially as practiced in California today, is truly a public good, or if it's a service to be provided as long as the state can afford it--but I'd rather not follow that tangent. I'd rather stick to the rally itself.

The original goal was to protest tuition increases, but by last weekend some were arguing that the rally was being co-opted:
A massive student rally in support of higher education funding planned for Monday at the state Capitol is being co-opted by labor and Occupy activists, says an executive with one of the student groups.

In the run-up to Monday's rally, two groups, Refund California and Occupy Education California, have issued press releases and given interviews about their plans to "Occupy the Capitol."

But Miles Nevin, executive director of the California State Student Association, says those two groups have "nothing to do with this event."
So bad guys were going to show up at the rally. Did they? Of course they did:
Another day of protests played out at the state Capitol on Monday with thousands of demonstrators denouncing soaring higher education costs and a select group spending most of the day inside the rotunda to achieve one goal: getting arrested.

By the time the spectacle petered out Monday night, the California Highway Patrol tallied 68 arrests of people who refused to leave the Capitol rotunda after it closed at 6 p.m. Four others were arrested earlier, three on charges of creating a disturbance and one because he was carrying a switchblade, authorities said.
Would it be gratuitous of me to point out here that I cannot recall any Tea Party rally at which people refused to leave a public building when asked to (if they even needed to be asked), or at which anyone was arrested for carrying a switchblade? Probably, so I won't point it out. Moving on.

Longtime local columnist and commentator Dan Walters makes some salient points:
The thousands of college students who marched on the Capitol on Monday to protest rising fees and decreasing state support had a point: Higher education has taken a disproportionately heavy drubbing in recent years as politicians attempted – and largely failed – to balance the state budget.

The Legislature's budget analyst has calculated that under Gov. Jerry Brown's 2012-13 budget, state general fund spending on the University of California, the state university system and community colleges will have dropped 21 percent in five years, while fee and tuition revenue will have increased by 64 percent.

Several of those politicians uttered sympathetic words as they addressed protesters. But they sidestepped the political trade-offs that cut college funds and avoided any mention of the Brown tax plan they have endorsed.
He goes on to pinpoint why things won't change, either:
Students may noisily protest, but they don't contribute money to politicians' campaigns, and their voting levels are notoriously low.

The budget is a zero-sum game, and higher education plays a weak hand.
And that, as they say, is that. So what did yesterday's rally accomplish? Probably nothing of value.