Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bogus Degrees

I've commented many times on bogus degrees offered by many colleges and universities, and this is just more fuel for the fire:
Degrees in sports administration and pop culture? Higher education seems to have drifted so far from its fundamental charge that, today, apparently anything can qualify for degree status.

What an injustice this is to students, who innocently believe that if a university thinks a subject important enough to make it into a degree, then they will be well-served by enrolling in it. There are those who blame such students for their bad choices. I am not one of them. I taught in universities for many years and I know the deference paid by most students to the standards articulated by their institution. After all, these are still kids, for the most part; offering them degrees in “pop culture” is perilously close to child abuse. Any academic or administrator who truly believes in both the employability and intellectual respectability of a degree in pop culture is both deceived and deceiving.

There was a time, not that long ago, when universities had a proper reverence for the life of the mind, a reverence that would have made them ashamed to offer such empty-headed degree programs to their students.

Apparently, that time has passed.
While I disagree with the author about "kids" and "child abuse", I agree that silly majors serve only a few--mostly the instructors, not the students.  Yes, there are some who can make a living in "sports administration" or even in "pop culture", but there are also a few who can make a living in "football" and "motion picture acting"--but that doesn't mean our institutions of higher education should be putting a lot of effort there.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Off to West Point

I just got home from the going-away party for a former student of mine who, in a couple days, will report to West Point. 

He has no idea what he's in for.  Of course I think he's as ready and capable as anyone can be, but the experience is so unlike anything most of us have ever experienced before as to be impossible to prepare for.  You just go there, do what needs to be done, accomplish your mission, and then graduate.  Simple.  Not easy, but simple.

Part of me envies him, just starting out on this adventure....

An Education Legend Dies

No one has probably ever heard his name before, though:
Sokolski, the man who invented the Scantron test format, died earlier this month at the age of 85 of congestive heart failure. His memorial was held Thursday in Southern California...

Born in Poland in 1926, he left his homeland at the age of 16 after his house was bombed and his mother killed during World War II. He served as a tank driver in the Polish Forces. Following his time in the military, he moved to the United States and became a U.S. citizen in 1963. link

Trip Pics and Video

The weather could hardly have been better for the vast majority of the time I spent on the San Juan Islands, and you see evidence of it in these pictures:
click to enlarge
 A reflective stop on the way to Roche Harbor, with the Saanich Peninsula in the distance.


 We took the ferry over to Orcas Island, where we rode the scooters.  Here, "the captain" and "the admiral" stand near the scooters.


 A view of what I call "the boobies", from an overlook on Mt. Constitution.


 The "first mate" and I during a stop at Roche Harbor.


"The captain" and I at an alpaca farm on San Juan Island.


The view from the porthole of my cabin.


A couple of Kenmore Air planes at the the Friday Harbor marina.



video
Approaching Seattle on Kenmore Air.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Give Up The Fiction

I have long labored under the belief--the hope, really--that we were a free people, citizens in a free republic. Today, however, I have to accept that we are not citizens but rather are subjects of our government. There is no limit on the power of our government beyond the limits our lawgivers place on themselves, and since absolute power corrupts absolutely, the reach of our government is limitless. We have no rights that the government is bound to respect. Heck, an hour ago I, like a good subject, submitted to a nudie scanner at the airport.

A free people. It was a nice fiction while it lasted.

Update, 6/30/12:  The lefties love V For Vendetta, and perhaps after viewing this clip I can see why (well, the message and Natalie Portman)....

Obamacare

To say I'm disappointed would be an understatement, and I hope the Congress is up to the task of what must be done:
The Supreme Court has refused to save us from ourselves. The remedy now will have to be political.
I guess for the liberals, the Supreme Court is "legitimate" again--until next time.

This is another Kelo decision, one of those decisions I just cannot understand.  As I did when that decision was handed down I'm forced to ask: what are the limits on government?

Is it too extreme to say that there are no constitutional limits on government anymore?  Because I fear that's the case.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Quite The Journey Today

This morning we took the 150-cc Piaggio scooters onto the ferry and went to Orcas Island.  While there I saw eagles, deer, rabbits--and from the summit of Mt. Constitution I saw Mt. Ranier and Vancouver, BC.

A long, enjoyable day.  Tomorrow I fly back to Sacramento....

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Shortest Airplane Flight In The World

Yesterday I flew on a float plane for the first time, traveling from Seattle's Lake Union to Friday Harbor with a brief stop at Lopez Island. This video shows the entire flight from Lopez Island to Friday Harbor, the shortest flight in the world.

I got to be co-pilot--thanks, Kenmore Air!

Friday Harbor

I'm staying in Friday Harbor, the largest town--not that there's much competition--on San Juan Island. My friends live on a 50 foot Hatteras, which even as I type here on the bridge is rocking back and forth gently in the marina.

Today we drove their Piaggio 150-cc scooters all over the island, making a lunch stop at Roche Harbor. I left my cameras behind today so that I could absorb the experience rather than record it, but trust me when I tell you that this is beautiful country.

At one of our stops a lady said, "people around here have either three houses or three jobs, guess which one I am!" This is definitely not an island on which the lower middle class can afford to live!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Terminal B

Some time in the last several months the new billion-dollar Terminal B opened at Sacramento Int'l, replacing the original, "metropolitan" terminal that I remember from my childhood. It's bright, open, spacious, and convenient. A friend of mine recently said that no new airport (or terminal) can be built without a train, and sure enough this one has several-dozen-meter-long train between the gates and the ticketing and baggage claim. It's my first time here, nice terminal.

Update: Now at the optimistically-named Concourse A (there is no Concourse B) at Lake Union in Seattle, waiting for my floatplane to Friday Harbor in less than 2 hours....

Be It Ever So Slight...

...I'll take any improvement I can get.

This past April 23rd, on the anniversary of my skiing accident, I ran a mile just to show I could.  It was an act of defiance for me, a goal I set when I wondered if I'd ever even walk again, at least without a limp.

If you watch that video, though, you see that my running doesn't appear natural or fluid.  My leg wasn't strong enough to catch my entire body weight, flex somewhat, and then push off for the next step, and it's been that way in the intervening months--until yesterday, kinda-sorta.

Yesterday I received a check from the University of Phoenix for working with my student teacher and decided to walk up to the bank to deposit it.  On the way there I had to cross a wide street, and with the cars approaching faster than I preferred I did a hop and started jogging across the street.  Lo and behold, the movement actually felt natural!  My left leg still isn't as strong as my right, but it's close enough now that I didn't feel like I was running on a pegleg.

It may only be on the beginner trails, but I'll be up on the slopes again this coming winter.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Travel

Last summer's travails with the rat bastards at Icelandair have receded like a Greenland glacier in global warming, leaving behind this summer's travels--which include two conveyances on with I've never before traveled.  In a couple weeks I'll be on a high-speed (but not a bullet) train for the first time, but tomorrow I go on a float plane for the first time, pontoons and all! 

Not sure about internet connectivity on a boat in Friday Harbor so blogging may be light for the next couple days, but I'll see what I can do.

As usual, the house is in good hands, as is my pit bull :-)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Football Player Doesn't Like Math Problem

It's a perfectly valid binomial situation:

Chicago Bears cornerback Charles "Peanut" Tillman was recently supporting his Cornerstone Foundation at a sporting goods store in the suburban Chicago area, when he received an autograph request from the daughter of the store's owner. The teenage girl was doing her math homework during the appearance, and she showed Tillman one of the problems given to her by her teacher, John Amrein of Round Lake Middle School:
The Packers play the Bears 4 times in two seasons. The Packers, being a much better team, have an 80% chance of winning each game. What is the probability that the Bears win all four games? What is the probability that the Bears win at least one game?
Tillman gave the autograph to the girl, but he also gave a bit of aggro to the teacher in question -- fair enough, we suppose, since the school is just a bit north of Chicago.
Mr. Amrein,
This is Charles "Peanut" Tillman of the Chicago Bears and I'm shocked that you would have a problem like this for your students. The probability that the Bears would win in my opinion is 100%. Please do not and I repeat DO NOT send them home with math homework that is disrespectful to our team, city and our beloved Chicago Bears.
Your All Pro Corner
Charles "Peanut" Tillman
33
Geaux Bears
P.S. Bear Down
While we understand Tillman's dismay at the fact that an Illinois teacher would create anti-Bears math problems, Mr. Amrein does have a point. The Packers have the edge in the last 10 games between the longtime rivals, winning seven of those games, including the last four in a row.
His reply is ok--a little pantie-wadded, but ok--but I have a problem with the respect angle.  The Chicago Bears are a business, why are they owed any "respect" at all?  And respect is earned, not given.

The only issue with the math problem is that it seems the actual percentage, at least in recent games, should be 70% and not 80%.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

More Than Living--Experiencing Life

If It Were Any Other Race...

Put any other racial, ethnic, or liberal religious group in this video and it would be bigotry beyond belief--but slamming white people is OK:
The University of Minnesota - Duluth (UMD) is now sponsoring an ad-campaign designed to achieve "racial justice" by raising awareness of "white privilege."

The project disseminates its message, that "society was setup for us [whites]" and as such is "unfair," through an aggressive campaign of online videos, billboards, and lectures. The ads feature a number of Caucasians confessing their guilt for the supposed "privilege" that comes along with their fair features.

WATCH BELOW: Group says it is "unfair" to be white
I've never been one to believe in "white privilege".  The race pimps will say "of course you haven't, you're white!" but you should give me a little more credit than that for being a thinking person.
These lectures were publicly endorsed by university Chancellor Lendley Black. Black sent a message to the campus community in April describing his effort to "create an inclusive campus climate for all" through providing "support and... leadership to the Un-Fair Campaign."
How is it inclusive for all if I'm supposed to feel bad for who and what I am?  I can't control being white, any more than people can control being female or being gay, but I alone am supposed to feel guilty for something I cannot control.

What ever happened to judging people not by the color of their skin, but on the content of their character?

In this post from almost 7 years ago I argue the lack of logic in these race-based ideas of who's better than whom:
Seems to me that Delpit believes that a student's own "culture", for lack of a better term, is superior to the "culture of power", which would most likely be the dominant societal culture in which that child lives! In other words, the child should learn a few rules so that he or she can participate in that culture, but that doing so should be treated as a game to be played. I don't understand how Delpit can logically demand that society change to accommodate those from outside it, while at the same time saying that those outsiders should treat their surrounding society's culture as anything more than a game to be played, a hindrance. Such views seem to be the norm when people try to speak for the underrepresented, and such a belief structure belies not a desire for acceptance, but a desire for dominance--I believe that Delpit would, if she could, reverse the roles of the underrepresented and the dominant cultures, and would have no difficulty explaining why the new dominant culture should stay where it is and the new subordinate (white middle-class) culture should adapt to it. These belief structures are very self-serving and are based on emotion, not logic.
In that same post I stated the following:
So now we're back to social justice. For those on the left, it always comes back to this concept of social justice. Just to review, my post from earlier this month on the topic of social justice included this quote:


By the way, there's a huge difference between "justice" (government acts to ensure equal treatment before the law) and "social justice" (government acts to redistribute resources to those it feels are more deserving—and more likely to vote for said government).

While obviously not perfect, we've come a long way in this country towards the definition given above for "justice". The eulogies on the recent passing of Rosa Parks demonstrate how far we've come in only 50 years. I fear, though, those who would use the power of government to reengineer society to satisfy those it determines are "more deserving".
That the ad campaign is happening at a university is a travesty.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I'm Sure Their Parents Are Proud

Ralph and the rest of the Lord of the Flies gang heap abuse on a 68-year-old school bus monitor.  Will their parents apologize for the behavior, or claim that the woman somehow deserved it? 

Read the story here and watch the video, if you can stomach the whole thing.

Are Our Friends On The Left Protesting Now?

No?  I didn't think so.  Of course, I didn't think they were serious the first time they protested.  They weren't protesting warrantless surveillance of terrorists, they were merely protesting President Bush:
A House committee on Tuesday reauthorized broad electronic eavesdropping powers that largely legalized the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.

The House Judiciary Committee, following the Senate Intelligence Committee’s lead last month, (.pdf) voted 23-11 to reauthorize the FISA Amendments Act. The legislation, expiring at year’s end, authorizes the government to electronically eavesdrop on Americans’ phone calls and emails without a probable-cause warrant so long as one of the parties to the communication is outside the United States. The communications may be intercepted “to acquire foreign intelligence information.”  link
If it was "trampling on the Constitution" under President Bush, what is it under President Obama?

Hey, Rube! They Don't Care About You, Only About Your Money

Do you think union people care one whit about you?  If so, you're wrong--they care only about your money:
A union president's letter shows one school employee union planned to handle automatic dues collection of its members by demanding full payment at the start of the year or requiring its members to give a checking or savings account number or credit card for automatic monthly withdrawals.

Debbie Bence, president of the Plymouth-Canton Cafeteria Association, sent a letter to her union members on June 4 stating that the dues had to be paid as a condition of employment.

Bence said the financial information would be kept confidential and kept at the Michigan Education Association headquarters. News reports state that uinon dues to the MEA are capped at $778 a year.

Bence and MEA Spokesman Doug Pratt haven’t returned messages seeking comment.
Public Act 53 became effective March 16 and prohibited union dues from being automatically deducted from payroll. However, one day after Bence’s letter was dated, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction that blocked the law until the legal process plays out.
Payroll deduction was what the unions in Wisconsin were really fighting.  They know that without automatic payroll deduction, their coffers will dry up with a quickness.  U-bots, ask yourself this: do you think most teachers value unions enough to write a check to them?  If you think so, then how do you explain the dramatic drop in union dues collection each time a payroll protection law is passed in this country?  Are teachers too lazy to pay their bills, or do they truly not value what unions provide and opt not to pay when they're allowed to do so?

Silly minion, you don't know what's best for you--so unions will force you to pay (see above, or via payroll deduction) so that your betters and masters can be serviced.

Confidence In Public Schools Continues Long, Slow Decline

I started kindergarten in 1970.  Three years later Gallup conducted its first poll on confidence in public schools, and 58% of Americans polled either had either a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the nation's public schools.  It's been downhill from there:
Americans' confidence in public schools is down five percentage points from last year, with 29% expressing "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in them. That establishes a new low in public school confidence from the 33% measured in Gallup's 2007 and 2008 Confidence in Institutions polls. The high was 58% the first time Gallup included public schools, in 1973.
Trend: Confidence in the Public Schools 
Just tossing this out there--when did teachers unions start amassing power?

Some good news to report, though: the military as an institution remains at the top of the list, where it has been almost continuously since 1989, at 75% "great deal/quite a lot" of confidence.

America's 25 Most Crime-Rattled Colleges and Universities

It's an interesting list, especially when you consider how many of the Ivies are on it.  None of our service academies are on it, though :-)

It's Not Racist When You Attack Black Republicans

I ask you, which is more racist:  thinking Obamacare is unconstitutional, or saying that Representative Allen West is proof that the Republican Party has become the Party of the Apes?
Bill Maher, a comedian who donated $1 million to President Obama’s superPAC, attacked the only Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus while describing the GOP as “the party of the apes"...

The liberal comedian — like Mann and Ornstein — targets Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., as his proof that “the apes” have taken over the GOP. 
If a conservative said something like that about a black liberal, the usual suspects would be screaming bloody murder and it would be leading news for a week.  Reverse the parties, though, and it's "nothing to see here, please move along"--and that's if they're forced to address it at all. 

Hypocrites.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The President Forgets That Some Of Us Pay Attention

I'm sure that pointing out these facts is somehow racist, but I'm going to do it anyway:
During his big economic address on Thursday, Obama repeatedly said that the economic problems we face today were “a decade in the making.”

But there is a problem with Obama’s logic. Over the last three-and-a-half years, the president and his administration have continually claimed that the stimulus was working and that a robust recovery was starting. If the legacy of the Bush administration policies was going to hinder the recovery so badly, why did Obama keep on predicting that things were going to get better soon...

Claims that the economy was on the verge of improving go back to the very beginning of the administration. Larry Summers, who then served as Obama’s chief economic adviser, promised on January 25, 2009, that the economy would start improving “within weeks” of the stimulus plan’s being passed. Indeed, Summers touted the “shovel ready” nature of the jobs program as being “timely, targeted, and temporary.” It was supposedly targeted at hiring unemployed workers quickly, within 90 days, and lasting until the private sector was able to get back on its feet.

In March 2009, just five weeks after passing the stimulus, President Obama perceived an upswing and started off a press conference by announcing: “We’re beginning to see signs of progress. . . . This plan’s already saved the jobs of teachers and police officers. It’s creating construction jobs to rebuild roads and bridges.”

Obama declared later, in May, that the massive spending program was “already seeing results” and had created or saved almost 150,000 jobs...

If Obama’s economic predictions had come true, he surely would have claimed the stimulus was a success. But with a bad economy, he acts as if he knew that Bush’s policies would keep the economy from growing. Why should anyone trust Obama when he can’t even admit that all these predictions were wrong?
It's not like we need more reasons not to trust the man, but he keeps giving them to us.

Sometimes It's Fun To Beat A Dead Horse

Figuratively, not literally, of course:
Remember when the Democratic Party saw the Occupy movement as the Left’s equivalent of the Tea Party? That lasted until it became obvious that 1) Occupy wasn’t actually much of a movement, and 2) to the extent it existed, it was an embarrassment. Occupy is in the process of fading away, not with a bang but a whimper, and with more criminal prosecutions to its credit than normal citizens converted to the leftist cause.  link
And people who hitched their wagons to this disgrace of a horse deserve any ridicule that comes their way.

Update:  Oh look, these occupiers support child sex slavery!  No, I'm not exaggerating, that's honestly genuinely truly what they're doing.  Go look at the pictures of their signs.  Remember, if you support the Occupy movement, these are the people with whom you're traveling.

The Fear of God

I'm glad to hear that some universities are checking high school seniors' final grades, as "senioritis" is a poor excuse for laziness:
College-bound seniors beware: If you slept through your classes this semester and have the failing grades to prove it, your university may soon threaten to rescind your admission this fall.

For students admitted to Texas Christian University, a notice informally known as the “fear of God letter” will read something like this...

The above example is the tough version, sent to honor-roll students whose grades plummeted to Ds and Fs. The university also sends softer versions of the letter to A and B students who suddenly get Cs in the spring semester, Mr. Brown said...

“Senioritis is just sort of an assumed disorder that’s going to take us all,” Mr. Brown said. “You need to be aware that people are watching and that this is important. We care because your study skills are going to be atrophying.”
As I always tell my seniors, no champion runs up close to the finish line and then just walks across.  Finishing isn't the goal; heck, just about anyone can finish high school.  The goal is to finish well.

Hat tip to reader MikeAT.

Maybe They Were Reading 50 Shades of Grey

No, I haven't read that book (but I've heard in the teacher's lounge at school, of all places, that it's semi-pornographic).  So there's my disclaimer, and now on with the story:
Nine male students were suspended from Bell Middle School for allegedly masturbating while looking at pornography on their cell phones during English class...

The teacher, Ed Johnson, is reportedly under fire because he did not respond to students who told him about the behavior while it was allegedly happening – only saying he would give students referrals if he caught them – then went on reading at his desk...

The teachers union says the allegation the teacher did not follow through and take action is simply that – an allegation made by two students in the classroom.
There's more at the link, of course, but you can tell where that story's going. 

I'm forced to ask, what kind of people are these kids?  What are they learning at home that would even make them about doing this, much less talk to others about it enough to coordinate such an event in class?  I wonder if any of their parents tried to challenge the suspensions by claiming it was the teacher's fault?  I'd definitely like to get some more information about this story.

Hat tip to reader MikeAT.

Monday, June 18, 2012

California's Dysfunctional Government

This is not an exaggeration:
June 5 was the first election that used the “top two” primary system, a form of open primary designed specifically to elect more candidates who resemble former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who helped advance the idea. He was one of least effective and least principled Republicans to attain higher office in recent years, so let this serve as a warning about what is to come.

The election also took place under new districts drawn under a supposedly apolitical redistricting system.

After the smoke cleared, we find these results: Top two has obliterated minor parties, and assured that the ideas they bring in the general election, will not get a fair hearing. In many legislative races, the general election will pit two members of the party against each other, which is part of the system’s design. Top two is supposed to promote greater choice, but voters will have fewer choices.

Top two is supposed to reduce the influence of big money, but record amounts were spent in the primary cycle. It will only increase the power of moneyed interests. Now candidates will need to run in two open, general elections, rather than in a narrow primary and then in a general, in what typically is a safe seat. That takes a lot more money to win than it did before. Who do you think will provide it?

Redistricting was supposed to take the politics out of politics, but media reports proved that Republicans improperly vetted the redistricting commission members, allowing on the panel agenda-driven lefties.

Between the two “reforms,” it’s clear what will happen: Democrats are likely to gain a rock-solid two-thirds majority in both houses of the Legislature, where they can then have the power to raise taxes at will. Another “moderate” reform has also gone into effect—the elimination of the two-thirds vote requirement to pass state budgets. We can already see what has happened as a result of that change. In this cycle, Republicans don’t have a say in the process, because Democrats no longer need to rely on their votes to pass their budgets.

I’m not sure how giving only one party and its most extreme elements unchecked power to pass budgets is in any way a moderate idea.

There is nothing "moderate" about California's government.

Update: Don't trust Reason?  How about the San Francisco Chronicle?
In 2010, the California electorate approved Proposition 25, which required that lawmakers lose their pay if they fail to pass a budget by June 15, and also made it easier for the Legislature to approve a spending plan by lowering the vote threshold from two-thirds to a simple majority.

That enabled Democrats last year and on Friday to pass a spending plan without a single Republican vote. Although last year members of the minority party were a key part of budget talks, this year their involvement was almost nonexistent.

That's because last year Gov. Jerry Brown wanted lawmakers to place a tax measure on the ballot, which required a two-thirds majority vote that could not be achieved without some Republican support. GOP lawmakers, however, refused to give Brown the votes he needed. So this year, the governor bypassed the Legislature and opted for an initiative, collecting voter signatures to place the tax increase on the ballot.
 
Thus, GOP leaders essentially became irrelevant in budget negotiations and were excluded as Democratic lawmakers and Brown worked to hammer out details of the new spending plan. Every Republican lawmaker voted against the plan, and it passed anyway.

Critics say the change in law has resulted in an opaque, secretive budget process, but one thing is clear: Gone are the days of budget deadlocks dragging into the fall. Majority Democrats no longer have to court a handful of GOP legislators for their votes, votes that were often obtained in exchange for concessions unrelated to the budget. 
At best we've exchanged one problem for another.  At worst--well, you know.

Hold The Presses, Boys and Girls, I Agree (somewhat) With Diane Ravitch!

OK, she starts out disparaging data--sure, why not, if you're a wackjob--but then she hits hard on a new academic fraud that's designed solely to increase graduation rates:
As the pressure to reach the targets get tougher, many districts are devising ways to raise their graduation rates that have nothing to do with thinking and learning. A prime suspect is credit recovery. I became suspicious when I first learned about credit recovery several years ago. That is when I discovered that some high schools were allowing students who had failed a course to obtain full credit by submitting an essay or a project that was written without any oversight or attending a workshop for several days.

It turns out that the academic fraud goes even deeper than I suspected.
Ravitch rants a bit about "major for-profit organizations" that run these credit recovery scams--she hates corporations, no doubt about it.  But her column shouldn't be about those corporations, because there are plenty of public school districts that run their own credit recovery scams.  And the corporations exist to fill a need created by horrible school outcomes and politicians, not vice versa.  If the products are bad, it's the fault of school districts for purchasing them or for approving them for credit recovery.
But what I saw, and what I understand has now become common practice, is academic fraud. I saw course credit awarded for "courses" that may be completed in as little as three hours. Three hours of test-taking to get credit for a full semester or even a year! I saw assessments that consisted exclusively of simplistic multiple-choice or true-false questions. I saw responses of dubious value that were "graded" by machines. The level of difficulty of these exams is shockingly low.

But this fraud works. It is profitable. It is a win-win: The student gets credit, the corporation makes money, the school raises its graduation rate, the city leaders celebrate, and the media reports the good news. And the graduation rate means nothing, and the students get an empty "education."
She and I agree on much of this, except for the problems with the "corporation".
This is academic fraud. These students are not getting an education. They are going through an exercise to pretend that they got an education so that they can graduate. The district will boast that its graduation rate is going up and up. Media figures will say that "education reform" is working. Big-name officials will exchange high-fives. And many thousands of young people will get a diploma that signifies nothing. If they are lucky, they will get remediation when they enter college. If they are unlucky, they will join the ranks of the unemployed and the underemployed and wonder why their education did so little to prepare them for the challenges of life.
She and I agree on this entire paragraph, but I'm sure that since we disagree on the cause, we'll disagree on the cure.

Oh well, this isn't the first time I've disagreed with Diane Ravitch :-)

From The "What Was He Thinking?" Department

I'll take Stupid Teachers for 200, Alex:
A Queens teacher has been banned from all city schools after he allegedly made inappropriate comments and gestures during a sexual education class.

Former students told CBS 2′s Jessica Schneider that Dyrel Bartee, a teacher at Grover Cleveland High School was getting too explicit in his descriptions.

He has been accused of spreading his legs to demonstrate childbirth and grabbing his crotch to emphasize a point about sexually transmitted diseases.

“I seen it for myself, he was a creep,” said Leslie Sanchez.
In addition to the gestures and such, it seems likely he used incorrect grammar, too, judging from that used by his former student....

Hat tip to reader MikeAT.

Friday, June 15, 2012

No Blogging For The Next Couple Days

I'll be on hiatus :)

Update, 6/17/12:  Back from camping at Tahoe for the weekend. 

Why has Blogger not fixed this interface issue?????

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Education Buzz

This week's is here and includes my post about graduation ceremonies.

I Know Blogging's Been Light Lately

Been having some issues with Blogger--I hope they're working on them!

No, I haven't forgotten about you, my readers :-)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why Conservatives Believe in Voter ID Laws

We don't cheat, and we're willing to back it up with ID.  Why might libs be against voter ID?  Might it have something to do with this?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

School's Finally Out

We only have a "summerette" this year, as school will start even earlier than usual so that we can end our first semester before Christmas break this year.  But even the start of school is 9 or 10 weeks away....

Monday, June 11, 2012

Rigidly Following The Rules, or Trying To Skate?

Which is it--are the powers that be being too literal with the rules, especially when notice was given, or is the coach trying to get over on something?
In one of the more bizarre and over-the-top moves in recent memory, a junior hockey coach in Canada has been banned for coaching his team for a full year because he allowed his players to skip the opening and closing ceremonies of a tournament so they could study for exams.

The incident occurred in Newfoundland, where Brian Cranford served as the coach of the Mount Pearl Junior Blades. As reported by CBC and the Cape Breton Post — and brought to Prep Rally's attention by Deadspin and Puck Daddy's Sean Newell — Cranford and his team competed in April's Don Johnson memorial tournament, but the coach could only convince his players to compete if they were allowed to skip the opening and closing ceremonies for the event to study for their forthcoming final exams...

Cranford agreed to let the team miss the opening and closing speeches and notified all of the officials at the event. Roughly a month later, the coach was notified by the organizing committee of Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador that his decision was unacceptable, and that he would be assessed a year-long ban from coaching and a $2,000 penalty for the Junior Blades skipping the tournament's opening and closing ceremonies.

According to CBC, Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador Hockey president Jack Lee said the decision was made strictly on the bottom line: The regulations for the tournament stipulated that teams were required to take part from start to finish. Clearly, the organization's interpretation of "start" was quite literal.
By the way, I hope you got my pun. I'm usually not very good at them so I'm especially proud of this one :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Idiot Principal

Don't you just love stories like this one?  *sigh*
A controversial Coney Island principal has pulled the plug on patriotism.
Her refusal to let students sing “God Bless the USA” at their graduation has sparked fireworks at a school filled with proud immigrants.
Greta Hawkins, principal of PS 90, the Edna Cohen School, won’t allow kindergartners to belt out the beloved Lee Greenwood ballad, also known as “Proud to be an American,” at their moving-up ceremony...

She told the teachers to drop the song from the program.

“We don’t want to offend other cultures,” they quoted her as explaining...

Department of Education spokeswoman Jessica Scaperotti gave The Post an explanation staffers said they never heard — that Hawkins found the lyrics “too grown up” for 5-year-olds...

Scaperotti said the department supports the principal’s decision. “The lyrics are not age-appropriate,” she said.

But Justin Bieber’s flirty song about teen romance, “Baby,” was deemed a fine selection for the show. Hawkins had no problem with 5-year-olds singing lines such as, “Are we an item? Girl, quit playing.”

The other songs: “We’re All Together Again,” popular at Scout campfires; “The World is a Rainbow,” which celebrates diversity; “Shake Your Sillies Out” by Raffi; and “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from “Toy Story.”

Scaperotti noted PS 90 kids recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing “America the Beautiful” each morning. Insiders say Hawkins tried to end that tradition a couple years ago but staff objected.

The principal, a Jehovah’s Witness, does not recite the pledge because her religion forbids followers to salute any nation’s flag. Staffers gripe she doesn’t stand in respect during the school-wide ritual.
The entire education field gets a black eye when idiots like this make the news.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

A Compendium of "Opposition to Obama = Racism" Comments

I think this pitcher is pretty much empty by now, but that doesn't mean that people won't keep trying to pour out that last remaining drop.

Senior Pranks

These are pranks?  "Pranks" is not just another word for "vandalism", they have two very different meanings, and while those meanings may overlap in some instances, I don't see that they do in either of these two cases:
Seniors in C.K. McClatchy High School's class of 2012 tried to leave their mark on the school with peanut butter, spray paint, toilet paper and eggs, but their "senior prank" efforts turned dangerous and dozens of them have been banned from graduation ceremonies Friday.

About 30 students sprayed profane graffiti, wrapped toilet paper, pitched eggs and smeared peanut butter throughout the Land Park school's campus overnight Sunday as part of a senior prank. The extensive nature of the hijinks led to one student with a peanut allergy being sent to a doctor and others not being able to attend school.  link

or
Authorities say it may have been intended as a prank but it wasn't funny when vandals chopped down a 70-foot pine tree at a northern Los Angeles County high school.

The Santa Clarita Signal ( http://bit.ly/KXlvuQ) says surveillance video recorded three people in hoodies and caps using chainsaws to attack the tree on the Canyon High School campus before dawn last Friday.

The vandals spent three hours cutting down the tree, which was planted at the Canyon Country school 40 years ago. link

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/06/07/4545767/calif-school-vandals-cut-down.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/06/07/4544370/mcclatchy-high-prank-turns-dangerous.html#storylink=cpy

It Looks Like A Nice Day, But

The sun's out, there's a good breeze, and the memorial service for my friend's son is in a couple hours at a park by the river.

Update:  it was a nice service, held at Ancil Hoffman park.  People showed up in everything from shorts and a t-shirt to jackets and ties, and there were people representing so many "circles" of the young man's life.  Oh, it was hard to hear the remembrances while thinking about the guy I knew, and seeing the anguished looks on the faces of his mother and father, but there, under the shade of the oaks, we gathered, ate, drank, hugged, cried, shared, supported, and cared for the one who is gone and for the ones he left behind.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

H is for Hypocrisy

You've gotta love our friends on the left. Remember all that "new civility", where martial metaphors and any references to violence were to be off-limits in politics?

“Kill Scott Walker”: Angry libs flood Twitter with death threats after Wisconsin recall defeat

More such tweets here with a dollop of kumbayyah here.

And do the complaints about "too much money in politics" ring hollow yet?
After their crushing defeat in Wisconsin the coordinated reaction from the White House and their media mouthpieces was sniveling about too much money in politics while ignoring the millions they spent themselves in a futile effort to oust Scott Walker. They’re going to have a tough time keeping a straight face as their party’s leader, fresh off a dozen fundraisers since last Friday, heads to California yet again for another five shakedowns.
*sigh*

Teachers Making Teachers Look Bad

Teachers, are you proud of how these fellow teachers come across in this video? I mean, honestly, do you feel "oppressed"?

Dining With The Devil

Each year for the past few years, I've offered to meet my seniors at a local Mongolian Barbecue restaurant as a kind of farewell dinner. The mnemonic for this year's dinner was "six six at six", for 6/6 at 6pm (hence the title of this post).

Last night my student teacher, her husband and baby girl, and maybe 2 dozen students showed up. We kind of overwhelmed the small restaurant, but everyone took it in stride. We weren't noisy or bossy or obnoxious, so I don't think they minded the business on a Wednesday night!

But what a treat it was! It's hard to be a teacher and not develop some affection for many of your students, so it's nice to be able to spend some time with them in a social environment. I made it around to all the tables to socialize for a bit--because, after all, that was the main idea--and we all had a great time.

One student brought me one of those notes we teachers live for. I considered scanning it and putting it on here to show you an example of one of the decent kids I get to teach, but instead I just put it in my rainy day folder--where I keep things to remind me of why I do this job, to be referenced when I'm ready to quit.

I'm off downtown in a few minutes for graduation, where I'll see many of them for the last time. It's a great time of year to be a teacher!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Waste of Government Money

I'm sure the school district isn't spending its own money on this, but it's still taxpayer money:

FREE Lunch for All Kids
All children 18 years and younger are welcome.
NO enrollment, NO paperwork, NO income qualifications
Just come to San Juan Central and enjoy a FREE and nutritious meal.
 
San Juan Central
3700 Garfield Avenue
Carmichael, CA 95608
 
June 12 – August 2, 2012
Monday – Thursday (except July 4th)

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

This Is Not How To Properly Deal With The Issue

I wrote just a few days ago about lousy decorum at high school graduations, but this is absolutely the wrong way to deal with it:
When Anthony walked across the stage at his high school graduation, his family made some noise.
"It was my dream to graduate," he said.

 "I'm very proud of my son," Traci Cornist said.

 Apparently, so were a lot of others.

"Teachers, other students and other family members who weren't with us were also cheering for him also. He's well known," Traci said.

The excitement proved too much for the administration.

Instead of a diploma, Anthony got a letter from the principal, Marlon Styles, Jr.

 "I will be holding your diploma in the main office," the letter said, "due to the excessive cheering your guests displayed during the roll call."

"I did nothing wrong except walk across the stage," Anthony said.

The school demands 20 hours of community service before he can graduate.
He's right.  His family should have been escorted from the ceremony.

It's one thing to be proud of your kid, quite another to be an ass about it.  Of course, the school officials are being asses, too.  Is there anyone in this story who is not an ass?

Hat tip to reader MikeAT.

A Glaring Example of the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

From Joanne's blog:
A straight A student in Los Angeles schools, Andrea Lopez went to a SAT prep workshop and realized she was way behind students from other high schools. Will my best be good enough? she asks in LA Youth. She couldn’t do a single math problem. Other students knew vocabulary that she’d never learned, such as “spurious” and “cogent.” After years of being the best student in class, she felt stupid.
What can you say but, "wow"?

What Will Be The #1 Excuse?


o far CNN, Fox, and NBC are all calling the Wisconsin election for Republican Scott Walker, making him the first US governor (out of 3 attempts) to survive a recall election.

The left will sure as crap start making excuses tomorrow--Citizens United, voter suppression or intimidation, the recession, tampering with ballots, anything to explain why their guy lost.  It's not that they'll ignore their own voter suppression or intimidation, tampering with ballots, and fraudulent votes, rather they'll project their own crimes onto Republicans.  They'll squeal to high heaven and try to figure out why their guy lost.

Let me make it easy for them:  he lost because Walker was not only the better candidate, but because he's a good governor.  Since all the ballots haven't been counted yet we don't know the exact spread, but Walker was projected to win by the same 5-6 point margin, over the same opposing candidate, as he did when elected a year and a half ago.

My school's very own Che Guevara challenged me today about votes, about unions, etc.  He tried to convince me that because unions did good a hundred years ago that I should vote for them today; what he failed to point out, if he even knew it at all, was that major labor leaders during that grand union era--and let's not leave out President FDR (see below)--was against public sector collective bargaining.
Unions are enraged. They've been calling such increases (requiring public workers to pay 5.8% of their salaries towards retirement and pay 1/8 of their health care expenses) unspeakable since Walker was elected handily in November. Then, Feb. 10, Walker went further. He'd allow public-sector unions to negotiate only pay, not benefits, mainly because he wants HSA-style health plans and 401(k)-style retirements for state workers, and unions would fight that, tooth and ragged red claw.

So unions erupted. Teachers faked illness in such numbers as to close school districts for days. Mobs beat on the doors of legislative chambers. And in some heavenly Hyde Park, the great liberal god of the 1930s is saying he saw it all along.

Roosevelt's reign certainly was the bright dawn of modern unionism. The legal and administrative paths that led to 35% of the nation's workforce eventually unionizing by a mid-1950s peak were laid by Roosevelt.

But only for the private sector. Roosevelt openly opposed bargaining rights for government unions.

"The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service," Roosevelt wrote in 1937 to the National Federation of Federal Employees. Yes, public workers may demand fair treatment, wrote Roosevelt. But, he wrote, "I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place" in the public sector. "A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government."
So what has Wisconsin, the "cradle of progressivism", taught us?  That even with all the shenanigans the left has pulled--Democratic legislators' leaving the state, days of teacher protests whilst lying about being sick, a union-funded and -inspired recall election of a state supreme court judge, and now a union-funded and -inspired recall election of a governor--the people trust the Republican governor more than they trust the public sector unions.

Heckuva job, unions.  Why would anyone want to join you with a record like that?

The wind's blowing into the sea lanes, friends.  Let's make sure our sails are up.

Update:  it will also be interesting to see if San Diego, with a Republican mayor, and San Jose, with a Democratic mayor, vote to curb retirement benefits for city workers:
The ballot measures differ on specifics. San Diego’s Proposition B imposes a six-year freeze on pay levels used to determine pension benefits unless a two-thirds majority of the City Council votes to override it. It also puts new hires, except for police officers, into 401(k)-style plans.

More than 100,000 residents signed petitions to put the San Diego measure on the ballot.

Under San Jose’s Measure B, current workers would have to pay up to 16 percent of their salaries to keep their retirement plan or accept more modest benefits. New hires would get less generous benefits.

Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat, joined an 8-3 City Council majority to put the measure on the ballot.
Are either of those so draconian?  No, I don't want to pay more out of my pocket, either, but that isn't really the issue, is it?

Update #2:  Ann Althouse points out:
Look at the blue-red balance on the map for last year’s state supreme court battle. Now look at tonight’s map.

Update #3, June 6, 2012:  San Diego passed its measure by over 66%, and San Jose passed its by over 69%.  Scott Walker's Wisconsin margin was 6.9 points, greater than that with which he was elected only a year and a half ago.

Public employee unions had better get with the program.

Update #4, 6/6/12: Hitler finds out that Walker won the recall:

The movie is called Downfall. You probably haven't heard of it, but you've seen zillions of these spoofs.

Darkness in the Light

Today started out as a great day.  Our seniors took their last final exams and are now in the process of checking out, with graduation just 2 days away.  School ends for everyone else next Monday (don't ask) and for teachers next Tuesday.  The weather was beautiful.

At lunch we got word that the son of one of our teachers died this morning.  It was a freak accident, nothing that could be planned for.  I knew him, he'd gone to trivia night a few times.  Very nice kid.  College graduate.  Got a good job relatively recently and was finally starting that climb that so many of us remember from our 20's.  An only child for both of his parents.

I'm sending his dad, my colleague, a card, but it feels like such a hollow gesture.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Potentially Fired For Not Following A Stupid Policy

A Canadian teacher could conceivably be fired for not following his school district's stupid "no zero" policy:
Lynden Dorval, 61, has been a teacher for 35 years. He’d be in the class room today at Ross Sheppard High School except he’s been suspended.

That drastic action was taken because Dorval refused to go along with a misguided scheme cooked up by educational theorists and school administrators.

Under this scheme, it’s no longer possible for high school teachers at Ross Sheppard and numerous other Edmonton schools to give a student a mark of zero on an assignment or test, even if the student fails to hand in the assignment or write the test. Instead, students are given a final mark based on the work they do complete.

This policy has been in place at Edmonton junior high schools for decades, Dorval says, but it is now working its way into local high schools.
It is, absolutely, without a doubt, a stupid policy.  On the other hand, it's a policy and he must comply.

The article's author lists two links at the bottom of his article, one link for those who support the no-zero policy and one for those who don't.  I'll be honest, I don't find the supporters' arguments convincing.  They talk about "accountability" for the kids, but I don't see where the accountability is.

I emailed the following to the author:
It's a stupid policy. On the other hand, he's not an independent contractor, he's a govt employee. He needs to follow directions.

I understand the idea that you never want kids to think they can't pass, that they're "out of the game". My way of doing that is to tell them that even if they don't score the minimum overall to pass the course (60%), I'll give them a passing grade if they score 70% or above on the final exam.

Three more of my Algebra 1 students passed today than otherwise would have because of that policy.
He replied:
I like your idea. It gives kids incentive, but puts onus on them to work hard. Cheers,
There are good ways and bad ways to keep kids "in the game", and a no-zero policy is one of the bad ways.

Hat tip to reader Mark Perry.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Why We Must Cut Entitlement Spending

Ignoring these numbers doesn't make them go away:
Consider America's fiscal situation, which is dire anyway you cut it. Federal spending on the poor has grown enormously, as Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution told the House Budget Committee in April. The ten largest "means tested" programs (Medicaid, food stamps, earned-income tax credits, etc.) spent $4,300 per poor person in 1980 (in constant 2011 dollars), and $13,000 in 2011. That's a three-fold increase in real, per capita terms. Add in the $209 billion spent by federal programs too "small" to make the Top Ten, and total poverty spending reached $835 billion last year, or $17,380 for each American living below the poverty line. Spending on entitlement programs that aren't means tested was even larger: Social Security cost $731 billion and Medicare $486 billion. And in a dozen years, the number of Medicare and Social Security recipients will have risen by 50%. In 2011 the federal government spent $3.6 trillion, of which it borrowed $1.3 trillion, or more than a third. The Obama Administration expects to borrow a slightly larger amount in 2012. As a result, the gross federal debt stood at $14.8 trillion in 2011, 98.7% of GDP, and will surpass 100% of GDP each year through 2017. "Simply put," writes the steely-eyed Yuval Levin, "we cannot afford to preserve our welfare state in anything like its present form."
Taxing the rich isn't going to make these numbers go away, either.

Typical Liberals--Unabashed and Brazen

Look what the Democrats are doing:
Last night, I posted about a mailing I received from the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund, showing my name and address and the names and addresses of a dozen of my neighbors and whether we'd voted in the last 2 elections. The letter says that "we're taking a new approach... seeing this mailing to you and your neighbors to publicize who does and does not vote." We're told this is a matter of "public record" and that "After the June 5th election" — the recall — "public records will tell everybody who voted and who didn't." I found that quite disgusting...

A group of “researchers” using a Harvard University return address (108 Littauer Center – I checked and Harvard has that center.) is sending out campaign contribution information showing one Republican donor (me) and multiple (blinded) Democratic donors.  This reeks of intimidation tactics, i.e. “we have your name, etc and we will spotlight you”.  They claim this is information from “my neighborhood” – I know I live in a very Republican neighborhood so these names could be pulled from anywhere, e.g. the big UVA Democrat areas several miles from here.
This is disgusting.

A couple of valid points from the comments:
This bothers conservatives much more for the same reason we generally don't display political bumper stickers. We all know that many liberals are emotional basket cases that will key your car, or flatten your tires for daring to express a contrary opinion in their world.

Consequently telling a bunch of them in your neighborhood that you support Republicans is de facto a threat. Use of this tactic is an admission that what I just said is true: liberals are often scary and violent.

To use such a tactic does not make much sense for Republicans. You can't threaten people that conservatives will physically harm you or your property for being a liberal. It just isn't true enough to be scary.

I think this tactic is a damning admission.
and
 "So liberals are confirmed psychopaths."

Whoever sent these flyers out thinks enough of them are so that it will scare people into submission. Otherwise there is no point.

I agree with their self-diagnosis. 
and best of all
"They are apparently studying how public disclosure is going to supress contributions. Interesting thesis"

Certainly it is.

Maybe the next study approved can be a study of the impact of secret filming of gay college students. 
Oh, that would be wrong.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Teacher of the Year

I've said it 8 zillion times:  it's always a cop, a teacher, or a preacher.  That's why it makes news in the first place:
 A Texas middle school band director accused of texting sexually explicit messages to a 15-year-old student was named teacher of the year at his school a few days earlier, according to NBCDFW.com.
Hat tip to reader MikeAT.

Slapping a Student

I can understand it if a teacher loses their cool.  I don't excuse it, but I understand it. But to do something like this, premeditated?  Are you kidding me?
The family of a California high school student has failed to see the funny side of a teacher imitating a scene from the hit comedy "Bridesmaids" and allegedly trying to slap some sense into the girl.

Dionne Evans, a ninth grade student at Malibu High School, alleges that when she forgot to bring her homework to class on May 22 she was called to the front of the room and the unnamed teacher asked, "Did you see 'Bridesmaids'?"

The teacher then allegedly slapped the girl's face up to six times, TMZ.com reported.
It is believed the teacher was referring to a scene in the 2011 movie where one woman literally tries to slap some sense into another.

Evans' family have filed a complaint with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. A spokesperson for the sheriff's Special Victims Unit confirmed to the Santa Monica Daily Press that they are investigating the incident.

The teacher has since written an apology to Evans but her family have hired an attorney and are reportedly considering a civil lawsuit against the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.
Someone in this story needs some sense slapped into her, and it's probably not the kid.

The School Insurance Authority must love stories like this one.

Why I Don't Like High School Graduation Ceremonies

Every other year at my school we have to work at graduation.  I could easily whittle the list of responsibilities down such that we'd only need to work every third year, but that's something I can deal with another time.

I never work in the ceremony itself--I'd die.  We hold our graduations in Memorial Auditorium downtown, and I always get one of the jobs in the basement.  I work before and after the ceremony.  Before the ceremony, I'm getting the kids lined up, taking their pictures with their friends, making sure they're properly dressed, providing them with information, making sure they have their name cards for the reader to read as they walk across the stage--things like that.  The atmosphere is electric, it's like pre-game activities for the Super Bowl.  After the ceremony I'm also downstairs, handing out diplomas and saying final good-byes.  It's like being with the winning team after the Super Bowl.  I get the best of everything.  I'm actually looking forward to working our graduation this year.

Last night I attended my nephew's graduation, and all the things I hate about graduation ceremonies were on display.

His was held outside, on what appeared to be his Taj Mahal-of-a-school's soccer field.  The temperature was in the high 90s, and the bugs were having a field day.  Ugh.  I was thankful that shortly before starting, someone got on the speakers and said that they'll let us know when the kids were to start marching in, but that they wouldn't start the processional until all umbrellas (used as sun shields) were put away so everyone could see.  To my pleasant surprise, at the appointed time everyone put away their umbrellas.

That's where my glee ended.  Because as soon as the kids started walking down the center aisle to their seats up front, everyone stood up so they could see.  Of course, once everyone's standing, the view is no better than it is when everyone's sitting--in fact it's worse, because at least when everyone's sitting even the people in the distance can see the kids, who are standing/walking, over the heads of the seated crowd.  But once a few people stood up because seeing their kid is the most important thing on the planet, others had to, and then more, and pretty soon only the people lining the aisle could see.  Ugh.

Women, this one goes out special to you.  You know that high-pitched screaming thing you do?  It's like an icepick through my temples.  Do you not know how loud you are, how high-pitched that yell is, how little anyone around you wants to hear that?  Ugh.

And for all you people who bring air horns and vuvuzelas and such--yes, I know you want to cheer for your kid, and you want your kid to hear you cheer for him or her.  What you clearly don't consider, though, is that the kids are going across the stage at a rate of 10 per minute, one every 6 seconds.  While you're having a great old time, not only are the people next to you covering their ears to lessen the 120 db horns you're blowing, but the family of the child whose name is announced immediately after your kid's cannot hear their kid's name being announced because you're too busy acting low-class and selfishly trying to hog some limelight.  Ugh.

I'm not trying to be an old fuddy-duddy here, but I have to ask--when did graduation ceremonies become like English soccer matches?  When did "pomp and circumstance" give way to screaming and airhorns?  When did people stop demonstrating common courtesy to those around them?  I'm not asking for dourness or total solemnity here, but I am asking for people to be courteous to the couple thousand other people in attendance. Could you not simply clap for your kid when his/her name is called?  Do you really need to scream for several seconds, block other people's views with your signs--or my personal favorite, try to run up and hug your kid as they come off the stage, even though you've been asked not to because it gums up the works?  (OK, that last one didn't happen last night, but I've seen it before.)

My advice, suggestion and prayer:  act dignified during the ceremony, and have as much fun as you want to afterwards.

And that's just the adults.  Now it's on to the valedictorian speeches.

I joked with my sister before the ceremony started that I never work in the graduation ceremonies in part because I can't stand valedictorian speeches.  If I never again hear "Remember when we were freshman, and the school seemed so big, and then we were sophomores and juniors, and now we're seniors and we rule the school" one more time it will be too soon.  And how many valedictorians does one school need?  My school had one, and one salutatorian, but now schools have lots--my nephew's school had 6, although only 2 gave speeches.  Anyway, when the first one spoke and started with the "remember when we were freshmen" routine, my sister looked over at me and laughed.  She knew it was killing me!  Ugh.

As I listened to the first valedictorian I texted one of my friends with whom I graduated almost 30 years ago, told him about it, and asked, was my speech as vapid?  His response:  I don't remember it, I was probably thinking about getting laid.  Reading that text was for me the most enjoyable part of the graduation exercise except for watching my nephew walk across the stage!

So I survived the ceremony last night, my nephew will soon be off to a Southern California UC campus, and the world will continue turning. No ugh for that, I guess.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Showing Class at the Last Rally

Today was the last rally of the school year and I saw something that showed a lot of class.  The senior class acknowledged a couple of teachers as well as one of our custodians.  When the custodian's name was called, the gym roared--you'd have thought the roof was going to come down.  And it was sincere, too, as everyone loves Henry.  He seemed overwhelmed by it all, almost not knowing what to say.

For me, that was the best part of the rally.  Nicely done.

West Point at the National Archives

This is a lot of information.