Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Today in History

38 years ago today, North Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates of the Presidential Palace in Saigon and took over South Vietnam.  A war ended.

20 years ago today, the first web site on the World Wide Web went live.  A revolution began.

Optimus Recline

I bought the couch on Sunday, it was delivered this evening. 

Bliss.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Economist: Scrap Affirmative Action

From their keyboards to God's (or the Supreme Court's) ears:
ABOVE the entrance to America’s Supreme Court four words are carved: “Equal justice under law”. The court is pondering whether affirmative action breaks that promise. The justices recently accepted a case concerning a vote in Michigan that banned it, and will soon rule on whether the University of Texas’s race-conscious admissions policies are lawful. The question in both cases is as simple as it is divisive: should government be colour-blind...

Many of these policies were put in place with the best of intentions: to atone for past injustices and ameliorate their legacy. No one can deny that, for example, blacks in America or dalits in India (members of the caste once branded “untouchable”) have suffered grievous wrongs, and continue to suffer discrimination. Favouring members of these groups seems like a quick and effective way of making society fairer...

Awarding university places to black students with lower test scores than whites sounds reasonable, given the legacy of segregation. But a study found that at some American universities, black applicants who scored 450 points (out of 1,600) worse than Asians on entrance tests were equally likely to win a place. That is neither fair on Asians, nor an incentive to blacks to study in high school...

Although the groups covered by affirmative action tend to be poorer than their neighbours, the individuals who benefit are often not...

Although these policies tend to start with the intention of favouring narrow groups, they spread as others clamour to be included. That American federal programme began by awarding no-bid contracts to firms owned by blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans; now it covers people with ancestry from at least 33 countries...

The University of Texas (UT) justifies discriminating in favour of black people not on the ground that society owes it to them, but because, it claims, a diverse university offers a better education to all its students. That is a reasonable argument—some companies benefit from understanding a variety of customers, for instance, and the police probably keep order better if enough of them share a culture with the neighbourhood they patrol—but it does not wash for most institutions. In UT’s case, although colleges benefit from a diversity of ideas, to use skin colour as a proxy for this implies that all black people and all Chinese people view the world in a similar way. That suggests a bleak view of the human imagination.
As a child I learned the maxim "two wrongs don't make a right", and it is as true in the case of affirmative action today as it was in my home or school 40 years ago.  It may be legal, but for all the reasons listed above and so many more, there can be no moral justification for it.  As Oliver Cromwell said when dismissing the rump Parliament:,  "You have been sat too long here for any good you have been doing... Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The First Model

I've begun the model fitting for the semester project in the Statistical Analysis course I'm taking--I'm trying to predict the number of points the San Francisco 49ers scored in each game over the past 2 seasons based on various game statistics not including the number of touchdowns, field goals, etc.  I'm trying to predict scores based on data like rushing yards, number of offensive plays, turnovers, etc.

I used to do this as a hobby in my younger, pre-fatherhood days when I was glued to the television all weekend during football season.  On Monday I would look at game stats and try to predict the outcome of games.  A lot of it was gut feel, but one standard rule of thumb was this:  each turnover is worth 4 points to the opposing team. 

In the first model that I've fit, the parameter estimate for opponent turnovers is 3.55.   That means that each opponent turnover was worth 3.55 points for the 49ers.

My rule of thumb seems to be justified!

Just for giggles, I fit the model to the data from this past Super Bowl.  The Niners scored 31 points in that game, the model predicts 29.5.

What I've Been Saying For Awhile

Joanne has a great post up about why some kids learn and some don't.  The best line comes from a quote from another post:
 If you are an active learner you will learn. If you are waiting for someone to deliver it to you, make it “relevant”, make it fun – you will be left behind.

Smarter Balanced Assessments

There are two organizations vying for your testing dollars under the Common Core standards, and California has opted to go with the Smarter Balanced testing.  Here's what we can learn about Smarter Balanced so far:
The plan under discussion here last week among state education chiefs of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium represents the collision of hope and reality, as states confront what is politically and fiscally palatable and figure out how that squares with the more in-depth­—and potentially more valuable—approach to testing promised by the consortium.

“There is the dream, and there’s real life,” said one state assessment director attending the meeting. “We’re trying to bridge the two the best we can.”

The evolving two-pronged approach would give states the option of using a version of the Smarter Balanced test whose multiple sessions and classroom activities span nearly 6½ hours in grades 3-5, close to seven hours in grades 6-8, and eight hours in high school, or the group’s original version, which lasts about four hours longer in grades 3-8 and about five hours longer in high school.
That's a lot of testing.
It would be up to each state to choose which version of the assessment it uses. Early signs suggest that public antipathy toward testing and states’ tight fiscal straits are leading more than a few to consider the shorter version. It was pressure from chiefs within the Smarter Balanced consortium that prompted the group earlier this year to explore the option of two versions...

The pressure within Smarter Balanced to offer a shorter version is unsettling for the group’s biggest advocates, who contend that its vision, while lengthening testing in some states, offers immense promise to make tests a more meaningful gauge of achievement and also a form of instruction...

“You asked for authentic assessments,” Ms. Miller (co-chair of the Smarter Balanced executive committee) said she tells them. “Authentic assessment takes time.”
The measurement error between the two versions of the test will be significant:
And when they move from interpreting the two versions of the tests for groups, as states are expected to do for accountability, to using them to make decisions about individual students—as they plan to do in deciding whether high school students are “college and career ready”—the risk increases, he said.

“Any inferences about an individual from a shorter test will be noisier and less reliable,” the expert said.

“If you’re going to make decisions about people,” he said, “you’d hate to make them based on a test where 30 percent of the time you would make a different decision if you used the long instead of the short version of the test.”
Remember, California chose Smarter Balanced and my guess is that due to budget considerations will choose to go with the shorter test.  30% of the time we'd get different results with the longer version.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Another Zoomie Video


A few days ago I posted video of an Air Force Academy graduate going nose to nose with Piers Morgan.  Above is video of an a cappella group of Air Force Academy cadets performing one of the prettiest songs there is.  If you don't know the original, here's an orchestral version of it:

Education for the Real World

This sounds like a good idea to me:
Critics assail “for-profit” colleges for overpricing their education and not preparing students for today’s job market. But one such school is shredding that label with its innovative tuition promise: If you don’t get a job, they don’t get paid.

The school is called App Academy, and it teaches novice developers how to code software. The intensive course, operational in New York City and San Francisco, lasts only nine weeks but crams in a gigantic curriculum. Students learn multiple software languages, like SQL and JavaScript, and solve rigorous problem sets.

“Our goal is to place students as software engineers,” said Kush Patel, one of App Academy’s co-founders. “We don’t care so much if they can do graph theory or algorithms or other obscure kinds of CS topics. We want to give them real-world skills they can use and actually get them a job.”

Here’s how the tuition scheme works: Students study free-of-charge during the course’s duration. Upon gaining employment after graduation, alumni forward 15 percent of their annual base salary to App Academy, but not all at once. Instead, that sum -- typically around $12,000 for the average graduate -- is deducted incrementally from an employed graduate’s bi-weekly pay check for six months.

If a student isn’t hired within one year of completing App Academy, that student won’t be charged tuition. But that hasn’t been a problem for App Academy: Ninety-three percent of its graduates have received offers or are working in tech jobs. 
I'm on record as saying that colleges should get back to providing more of a liberal arts education.  This, however, isn't a college or university as much as it is a trade school--and I like the idea behind this particular trade school.

Netherlands To Have Its First King Since 1890

I first became acquainted with the monarchy of the Netherlands during my first visit there in 1975.  I've since developed a deep respect for Queen Wilhelmina, queen during World War II, for her leadership in exile.  I had no idea she had been queen for about 50 years by the time WWII broke out!  Queen Juliana was queen when I was there, and I received a nice note from the royal palace when, in 1980, I wrote to congratulate Queen Beatrix on her accession.

Queen Beatrix will abdicate in a couple days and her son will become the country's first king since his great-great-grandfather.  A coronation is a nice little birthday present, too:
With just three days to go before he officially becomes king, crown prince Willem-Alexander celebrates his 46th birthday on April 27.

Willem-Alexander, the Netherland’s first king since 1890, will be less focused on affairs of state and more on fulfilling his role as a binding force in the community at large, royal watchers say...

Although many expected the prince would take the title Willem IV, the prince will be known as king Willem-Alexander and his wife Máxima will have the title queen.

Asked in the pre-investiture interview why he did not want to be named king Willem IV, the prince laughed and said he did not want to be a number. ‘Willem 4 is in a field, next to Bertha 38,’ he said, referring to the way cows are named and registered.

US News Best High School Rankings

Just looking at the first page, the numbers that jumped out at me were the student/teacher ratios.  OK, we all know that schools fudge those numbers--so add 5 students to each one and we're still nowhere close to my class sizes.  My contract caps my classes at an average of 33 students per class with a maximum of 36 in any particular class.  That, dear readers, especially you readers outside of California, is not a typo.

The school at which I teach is ranked the highest in our district using US News' methodology.  Even still, we're beyond #1000 nationally and beyond #200 in California.  We are well above our district average, as determined by looking at the cumulative district data.

Ethical? Right Thing To Do? Smart?

Our math department offers a class that our principal thinks is unnecessary.  I truly don't understand his logic, which seems (to me) to be that students' doing well in this class is evidence that the class is unnecessary.  If I'm misstating his position, it's only because he hasn't communicated it in a way that I can understand.  To be clear, I think he's doing a fine job as principal and in general I support what he does, but on this one topic I just do not understand where he's coming from.

So I'm going to do a little statistical analysis.  The course is a "prep for the follow-on course", so I've asked the district for the following data:
-Students who took both this course and the follow-on course at our school in the last three years
-Grades for those students in the follow-on course
-Students who took only the follow-on course at our school in the last three years
-Grades for those students

My goal is to be see if the prep course students do at least as well in the follow-on course as do students who did not need the extra preparation.  It seems to me a chi-square test would be appropriate, looking at the proportions of students who "succeeded" in the follow-on course (grade of A or B) and whether or not they took the "prep" course.  The true measure would be to compare the grades students would have gotten in the follow-on course had they not taken the prep course, but obviously that information is unavailable to us mere mortals.  Any thoughts on the validity of the analysis as described above?

There's nothing wrong with doing that, but then I thought about the following:  what if we were to do an analysis of standardized test results, by teacher, for different courses?   Oh, I wouldn't need to know the teachers' names; the data could be given to me as Teacher A, Teacher B, etc.  Would an ANCOVA analysis (using last year's test score as a covariate) be mathematically appropriate?  And would it be "appropriate", for lack of a better term, to compare, say, all the geometry teachers?

I was thinking about this because we have some teachers who are all into Common Core, into group work, into all that stuff that I'm not; I'm a direct instruction kinda guy.  Currently, though, my students' results can't be compared to anyone else's, as I'm our school's only statistics teacher and the other class I teach doesn't have a specific standardized test associated with it.  We do, however, have several geometry teachers, and they use varying methods to teach the subject matter.  My thought was that we could use standardized test scores as a proxy for the teaching methods and analyze to see which results are better.  We have lots of geometry classes.

If I could see some evidence that so-called discovery learning and group work, which we're being pushed by the district to implement, is valid, I'd give it a shot, but until then I'm going to stick with direct instruction.

In any other field, a valid statistical test would be considered not only reasonable but obvious; in the unionized, we-are-all-one world of education, though, even the mere suggestion that some teachers (or their methods) are not as effective as others could ignite a firestorm.

What do you think?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

2 Years Ago Today

There are a few dates that will always stick with me:
The day I graduated from West Point.
The day my son was born.
The day I hurt myself skiing.

That last one was April 23, 2011.  I was released from the hospital Sunday, April 24th, Easter Sunday.  Monday, April 25th, was my first full day at home.

It was also when I started to get the full picture of just how crippled I really was.  I'm fairly pleased with how far I've come since then.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Defeating Campus Censors

There's a special place in 1st Amendment Heaven reserved for the people at FIRE:
It's no longer a matter of much debate that America's college campuses are not the beacons of free and open discussion they were intended to be. In its 14 years of existence, our organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), has documented hundreds of cases of gross abuses of students' and faculty members' fundamental rights.More than sixty percent of America's largest and most prestigious colleges have speech codesthat are either unconstitutional (at public universities) or directly contradict promises of free speech (at private universities).

The two authors of this piece come from different political and personal perspectives. One is a liberal and an atheist (Lukianoff), the other a conservative evangelical Christian (Shibley). Our combined decades of work as president and senior vice president of FIRE have convinced us that the groupthink and the pressure to conform, be silent, or talk solely to those with whom you already agree that is fostered by the culture and rules of the modern campus is destructive to students, our educational system, and our society as a whole.

So what can people who recognize the importance of free speech on campus do about it? There are a number of possible measures that might be taken. FIRE is already doing some of them; others would require new large-scale and ambitious initiatives. Some are cultural. Some are political or legal. None are the silver bullet that a lot of us might like, and some have tradeoffs that might make them less desirable. Let's take a look at a few of them.
Click here to see their suggestions.

How I Spent My Evening

After a stressful day, this was a nice treat.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

US Air Force Academy Has Turned Out At Least One Man With Huevos

I like this guy--and he looks like former 49ers great Steve Young:

Turns out he's a 2001 graduate of the Air Force Academy.

Piers Morgan is a chickens**t.

Sometimes, Teachers Behave "Inappropriately"

This would be one of those times:
A former Utah high school math teacher was arrested Friday on charges of raping a 17-year-old female student, Fox13Now.com reports.

Courtney Jarrell, 22, who also coached the Riverton High School girls' basketball team, resigned shortly after she was charged by prosecutors.

Jarrell appeared to be well-liked at the school. She now, however, faces two felony charges of object rape and forcible sexual abuse for a non-consensual sexual encounter that allegedly occurred at the teacher's residence.
One of the first rules for being a long-term teacher is "don't rape the students."  Probably next on the list is "don't have sex with the students."

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Next Time Someone Tells You That NPR Is An Unbiased Source....

On NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’ yesterday, Counterterrorism Correspondent Dina Temple Raston concludes that the Boston Marathon tragedy was more than likely “a domestic extremist attack” citing April as a “big month for anti-government, right-wing individuals.”

In her segment, she notes that Hitler’s birthday and the anniversaries of the Columbine attack, the Oklahoma City bombing and the assault on the Branch-Davidian compound in Waco, TX all fall in April.  link
I'll bet she's one of those sickos who's just devastated that, yet again, it was Muslims who carried out this attack. After finding out she was wrong, I'll bet she immediately jumped on the "hope there's not a backlash against Muslims" bandwagon.

She must really hate Americans, to think that way.

By the way, are you hearing any stories about massive waves of backlash against Muslims in this country?  Me, either.

Illegal Fees In California Schools

It's been a lonely battle, and I didn't know that progress was being made on this front, but a longtime reader who shares my passion about illegal fees just posted a comment on this post--a "dispatch from the front", as it were.  California law has been clarified and is no longer up for interpretation.

Ed Code Section 49010:
ARTICLE 5.5. Pupil Fees [49010. - 49013.]
  ( Article 5.5 added by Stats. 2012, Ch. 776, Sec. 1.)
  
49010.  
For purposes of this article, the following terms have the following meanings:
(a) “Educational activity” means an activity offered by a school, school district, charter school, or county office of education that constitutes an integral fundamental part of elementary and secondary education, including, but not limited to, curricular and extracurricular activities.
(b) “Pupil fee” means a fee, deposit, or other charge imposed on pupils, or a pupil’s parents or guardians, in violation of Section 49011 and Section 5 of Article IX of the California Constitution, which require educational activities to be provided free of charge to all pupils without regard to their families’ ability or willingness to pay fees or request special waivers, as provided for in Hartzell v. Connell (1984) 35 Cal.3d 899. A pupil fee includes, but is not limited to, all of the following:
(1) A fee charged to a pupil as a condition for registering for school or classes, or as a condition for participation in a class or an extracurricular activity, regardless of whether the class or activity is elective or compulsory, or is for credit.
(2) A security deposit, or other payment, that a pupil is required to make to obtain a lock, locker, book, class apparatus, musical instrument, uniform, or other materials or equipment.
(3) A purchase that a pupil is required to make to obtain materials, supplies, equipment, or uniforms associated with an educational activity.
(Added by Stats. 2012, Ch. 776, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2013.)
 Ed Code Section 49011:

49011.  
(a) A pupil enrolled in a public school shall not be required to pay a pupil fee for participation in an educational activity.
(b) All of the following requirements apply to the prohibition identified in subdivision (a):
(1) All supplies, materials, and equipment needed to participate in educational activities shall be provided to pupils free of charge.
(2) A fee waiver policy shall not make a pupil fee permissible.
(3) School districts and schools shall not establish a two-tier educational system by requiring a minimal educational standard and also offering a second, higher educational standard that pupils may only obtain through payment of a fee or purchase of additional supplies that the school district or school does not provide.
(4) A school district or school shall not offer course credit or privileges related to educational activities in exchange for money or donations of goods or services from a pupil or a pupil’s parents or guardians, and a school district or school shall not remove course credit or privileges related to educational activities, or otherwise discriminate against a pupil, because the pupil or the pupil’s parents or guardians did not or will not provide money or donations of goods or services to the school district or school.
(c) This article shall not be interpreted to prohibit solicitation of voluntary donations of funds or property, voluntary participation in fundraising activities, or school districts, schools, and other entities from providing pupils prizes or other recognition for voluntarily participating in fundraising activities.
(d) This article applies to all public schools, including, but not limited to, charter schools and alternative schools.
(e) This article is declarative of existing law and shall not be interpreted to prohibit the imposition of a fee, deposit, or other charge otherwise allowed by law.
(Added by Stats. 2012, Ch. 776, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2013.)
Ed Code Section 49012:

49012.  
(a) Commencing with the 2014–15 fiscal year, and every three years thereafter, the department shall develop and distribute guidance for county superintendents of schools, district superintendents, and charter school administrators regarding the imposition of pupil fees for participation in educational activities in public schools. The department shall post the guidance on the department’s Internet Web site.
(b) The guidance developed pursuant to subdivision (a) shall not constitute a regulation subject to the requirements of Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code.
(Added by Stats. 2012, Ch. 776, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2013.)
Ed Code Section 49013:

49013.  
(a) A complaint of noncompliance with the requirements of this article may be filed with the principal of a school under the Uniform Complaint Procedures set forth in Chapter 5.1 (commencing with Section 4600) of Division 1 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations.
(b) A complaint may be filed anonymously if the complaint provides evidence or information leading to evidence to support an allegation of noncompliance with the requirements of this article.
(c) A complainant not satisfied with the decision of a public school may appeal the decision to the department and shall receive a written appeal decision within 60 days of the department’s receipt of the appeal.
(d) If a public school finds merit in a complaint, or the department finds merit in an appeal, the public school shall provide a remedy to all affected pupils, parents, and guardians that, where applicable, includes reasonable efforts by the public school to ensure full reimbursement to all affected pupils, parents, and guardians, subject to procedures established through regulations adopted by the state board.
(e) Information regarding the requirements of this article shall be included in the annual notification distributed to pupils, parents and guardians, employees, and other interested parties pursuant to Section 4622 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations.
(f) Public schools shall establish local policies and procedures to implement the provisions of this section on or before March 1, 2013.
(Added by Stats. 2012, Ch. 776, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2013.)
All of this is searchable on California Legislative Information web site, now located at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codesTextSearch.xhtml.

I'll make sure this information is disseminated at my school.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Common Core in California

I received permission from the author to post the following here:
Yesterday, I found sample CCSS test questions. They seemed VERY similar to our current standardized tests, just with bells and whistles. Now, gasp, the domain has been removed. Perhaps "they" are getting wind of backlash, or, want to keep everything secret.

Either way, bells and whistles don't make things better, its trickery. The questions were not of more rigor, just more computer based "fun" methods set to confuse students. Keypad/calculator looking icons to type in an answer in some, bubble-in the answer in others, drag this and that here and there to answer this, highlight that.

Here's where I got the link; the sample items and performance task portion. Its all California based but CCSS is national so it applies to most every state. http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sa/smarterbalanced.asp
We are so screwed.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Californians pay for their state universities because there's this belief that there's a social good we all share by doing so.  If that's true, isn't this just wrong?
The University of California, Davis has admitted nearly 22,000 applicants for its freshman class this fall, but they include fewer California students than last year and more students from other states and countries.

UC Davis' admissions reflect the University of California's goal to substantially increase the number of out-of-state and international undergraduate students ever since lawmakers imposed state budget cuts during the recession.
Perhaps our UC's are just government-run businesses which, if profit is the motive, shouldn't be government-run anymore.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/04/19/5354544/uc-davis-accepts-more-foreign.html#storylink=cpy

You've Gotta Love This App!

When I was supposed to go to Iceland two summers ago, hooking up with family members was not something I was going to worry about.  Heck, here in Sacramento I don't worry about that!

But imagine if you did have to worry about that!  Remember, Iceland has barely over 300,000 inhabitants, and Reykjavik has about a third of them:
If you meet someone in a bar and hook up for the night, there are some risks involved. We think you know what they are.

If you live in Iceland, though, there’s yet another risk: The object of your desire could be a very close relative. Iceland has only 320,000 inhabitants, and virtually all of them trace their ancestry to the island’s 9th century settlers.

How, then, to determine whether you may be skating close to incest with that attractive stranger? There’s now an app for that.
Just another way Iceland is like no other place in the world!

I Know It's Fashionable To Blame Teachers For Poor Student Performance, But....

I've always said that it's culture, more than teacher incompetence, that causes too many students to do poorly in school.  Schools are microcosms of the communities from which they draw students as well as of the larger society, and when this is what teachers are up against, you can't really blame us is we fail:
Let's say there is a child who curses you, the teacher, out. Let's call him Bad Billy or BB. Well, at the first offense you must write down in exact detail what BB said and your response and how you counseled BB, advised him, and redirected his behavior. No, "hey BB, school rule, no cursing, go see the principal" but something more like "why did you do that? What are the school expectations? How might you not do this next time? Why are you angry? How can I help?"

At this particular place of mention, you must do this at least three times before even sending them out of the classroom. Then you call parents. Then you let it happen again. Then you have a parent conference. Then you write a detention. Then a referral, logging all behavior modification steps you've taken, and hope administration approves of it. THEN, after ANOTHER offense, the student (i.e. BB) MIGHT be suspended. Might.
Our litigiousness and nannyism combine to create laws like this.   It's one thing to expect me to teach, it's another thing to expect me to teach but not to allow me some tools of effective teaching.

In Some Contexts, This Would Be Called Bullying...

...and these people would be advocating against it!
“Fascists,” “bums,” and “killing machines.”

That’s how conservatives and Republicans were described at the initial meeting of a new organization of faculty members in North Carolina. The group, named  “Scholars for a Progressive North Carolina,” was formed in response to what organizers described as “the destructive course pursued by the state legislature.”

The group’s members are primarily faculty from the state’s public and private colleges and universities, although they are also partnering with the North Carolina Justice Center, a private non-profit organization that has long advocated for left-wing causes in the state.  
Y'all stay classy now, y'hear?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

How I Spent My Day

It was mid- to high-80s today without a cloud in sight.  There was a bit of a warm wind, which really dries out the skin, eyes, and lips when you're outside.  When you see so many talented kids performing, though, it makes it all worthwhile--especially when you're the proud dad of one of them:
video

Makes You Wonder

If she did post this, one wonders how she could ever have worked in a school so long without someone knowing she's the vile racist that she is:
Ms. Wright was a counselor at Andrew Jackson Middle School in Grand Prairie ISD. That was until the district announced that she has been “immediately relieved of all duties.” The action was reportedly taken after an offensive remark written from her Facebook page (now removed from the web) was posted on WFAA-TV’s Facebook page.  The statement in question referenced to the tragedy in West, Texas....(screenshot of her post included in this story)
Ms. Wright claims she didn't write the post; will the school district get in trouble for their knee-jerk reaction of firing her so quickly?
Ms. Wright sees things differently, claiming that her account was hacked. TheBlaze has been unsuccessful in our attempts to make contact with Ms. Wright through her Linked In account and other sources. We would like to know more about the alleged hacking of her Facebook account.

In a statement to the ABC TV affiliate, Wright wrote;
“My Facebook account was hacked and the statement that was made is not of my character. I am a school counselor who will never 1) jeopardize my family, 2) jeopardize my job, and 3) jeopardize the trust of the students, parents, staff, faculty, and administration of GPISD.”
WFFA’s website is also reporting that she has hired an attorney and filed a complaint with Facebook.
She doesn't deny being a racist, she only says she wouldn't jeopardize her family and her job (by letting her racism become known).

Living In A Bubble?

This problem goes hand in hand with grade inflation:
Here is a personal example. Just last week my daughter sent me a draft of her Philosophy paper to review. She is a freshman at Stony Brook, a branch of the SUNY system in New York. Here was the assignment, in its entirety:

What is the result of Nietzche’s genealogical analysis of the concepts of good and evil? How do they come into existence?  Your answer should include an analysis of the concept of ressentiment among other concepts you find useful in your answer. Your paper should be approximately 2 pages long with no filler.

I don’t think half of American HS graduates could answer this question adequately, yet she is taking an intro course at a state university.

I once showed a group of HS teachers a set of Freshman exams from various colleges and they could not believe how “difficult” they were.

I therefore find it a dereliction of duty that HS teachers continue to teach and assign work with no attempt to check out what is happening in the colleges they send their kids to (or, better yet, colleges they wish to send their kids to). It ought to be a required policy that each department must a few times a year look at college exams and sample student work from an array of colleges; and either invite in local professors to talk about the deficits of incoming students or visit a local college to talk with their own alumni and their professors. (And via the Internet you can find assignments and exams for any course taught.)
Not to worry, though.  I'm told the Common Core standards are so rigorous that all students will not only have read Nietzche, they'll all be as smart as Nietzche.  *snort*

On the other hand, not everyone needs to go to college, so every high school course shouldn't be geared to getting students ready for college--heresy, I know, but it's still something I believe.  So-called "honors" and "college prep" courses, along with AP and IB and the like, should, however, be rigorous.

One of the Coolest Places Ever

I first visited the Exploratorium in San Francisco when I was in 5th grade.  It was off the touristy path a little bit, over in the Palace of Fine Arts.  It's just finished a move to new digs, where even more people will get a chance to become enthralled:
We’re back! The Exploratorium is now open in our spectacular new home at Pier 15 on San Francisco’s Embarcadero. What’s to see? There are 150 new exhibits—indoors and out—plus hundreds of beloved classics, a Bay Observatory, a bigger focus on tinkering and social science, and much, much more. Come explore.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fair Is Fair

I entirely support this.  After all, if we're all equal and we can't discriminate on the basis of sex, why would we allow a company to discriminate on the basis of sex?
  • Peter Lloyd is suing his gym over banning men at certain times
  • Men and boys are banned for a total of 442 hours every year
  • The gym say it is to make women more comfortable
  • 'I'm suing the gym for gender bias. Not simply because their policy is unfair, but because it pathologises masculinity while simultaneously repressing it.'
  • Thursday, April 18, 2013

    Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiim-berrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

    The arguments for man-caused global warming just keep falling like so many Amazon rainforest trees:
    (Reuters) - Scientists are struggling to explain a slowdown in climate change that has exposed gaps in their understanding and defies a rise in global greenhouse gas emissions.

    Often focused on century-long trends, most climate models failed to predict that the temperature rise would slow, starting around 2000. Scientists are now intent on figuring out the causes and determining whether the respite will be brief or a more lasting phenomenon.

    Mother Nature doesn't care about your consensus.

    Wednesday, April 17, 2013

    Making Community College "More Efficient"

    From today's major Sacramento newspaper:
    Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to make California's community college system more efficient and increase access for students hit a road block last week as lawmakers rejected his proposal to set a lifetime limit on the number of units students can take at reduced in-state rates.
    If you want to make community college more "efficient", whatever that really means,  we need to get rid of the mindset that everyone should or needs to go to college.  To reinforce that mindset, we should get rid of all so-called remedial courses at our CSU and UC campuses; a university is not the place for remedial work.  If you need remedial work, go to a JC/CC.  If you want a good basic education at a reasonable price, go to a JC/CC.  If you just want to go to college because your high school counselor said you should, you probably shouldn't.  If people see that our universities and JC's/CC's are serious places for serious study, the ones that shouldn't be at JC's/CC's at all will eventually leave--and eventually word will get around such that they won't show up in the first place.

    I understand that changing the perception about "college for all" is an uphill battle, but I'm still right.  Of course, all this is predicated on making all of our colleges and universities places for serious study.

    Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/04/15/5341604/lifetime-limit-on-community-college.html#storylink=cpy

    Hold The Presses! Liberal Professor Fired?

    She can still appeal her firing, but here's a summary of what's happened so far:
    A Brevard Community College professor in Florida placed on leave by administrators in September for allegedly forcing students to sign a pledge in favor of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, who was not yet elected to a second term, has officially been fired.

    A 3-1 vote by BCC officials terminated Sharon Sweet, who taught algebra, for violating the school’s code of conduct, which, according to Florida Today, barred employees from soliciting support for political candidates. Sweet, who was tenured, also was found in an investigation to have violated the code by creating a hostile academic environment. She will have the opportunity to appeal her termination with the board of trustees.

    The statement from the college’s investigation found that Sweet “strongly encouraged or mandated that students from several classes sign” the  pledge card in question.
    Knowing someone's politics, and being required to comport with someone's politics, are two very different things.

    Maybe she was just carrying out Bill Ayers' ideas:
     “If we want change to come, we would do well not to look at the sites of power we have no access to; the White House, the Congress, the Pentagon,” Ayers added. “We have absolute access to the community, the school, the neighborhood, the street, the classroom, the workplace, the shop, the farm.

    Tuesday, April 16, 2013

    Math In The News

    You've got to love "practical applications" of the normal curve:
    While yesterday's cliff-dive in gold was impressive by any standards, the escalating drop over the past 5 days has been just as dramatic. Based on 20 years of rolling 5-day moves, the ~15% plunge is equivalent to around 7 standard deviations (in context Yao Ming is a mere 6 standard deviations taller than the average human making gold's move the equivalent of meeting a man taller than 7'7")
    Too bad the reason behind it is so bad.

    Who Could Have Seen This Coming?

    Only conservatives, it seems:
    Monday, Regal Entertainment Group, the largest movie theatre chain in the country, announced that thousands of employees will have their work hours cut -- as a direct result of the added cost of the new ObamaCare mandates that become effective later this year...

    In order to avoid the added cost of providing health insurance for employees working 30 hours a week (as ObamaCare mandates), it only makes sense for companies to schedule employees for 29 hours. So anyone who was working full-time is now being hit with a 25% pay cut.  link
    The economic and social costs of socialism....

    Never Let A Crisis Go To Waste

    How many lefties are hoping--secretly, or not so secretly--that the person responsible for the Boston bombings is an NRA-supporting Tea Partier?
    Media assumptions that violence is right-wing are routine — and routinely wrong.
    Whoever did it needs to be executed, but I'm not secretly hoping it's one person/group or another. I want whoever did it brought to justice.

    Update, 4/24/13:  Doubling down on stupid is no way to go through life:
    During her other gig on MSNBC’s “The Cycle,” TheBlaze’s S.E. Cupp on Wednesday attempted to get Salon writer Joan Walsh to admit that it was wrong for some in the liberal media to hope the Boston bombers were “white Americans” and/or a “right-wing” Tea Party members.

    Cupp was not successful.
    Lots of talk about race in this article.  Am I the only one who's noticed that the scumbags were white as well as Muslim?  I still want the living one to die.

    This is the problem with lefties--they're the only ones who fixate on race.  Their single-minded focus on it demonstrates their own racial hang-ups, while the rest of us focus on things a little more important than melanin levels.

    Update #2, 4/25/13:  A Brit can see it, even if some Americans refuse to:
    Where is the mob of Muslim-hating Americans going crazy after Boston? It's a figment of liberals' imaginations

    Monday, April 15, 2013

    April 15th

    Tax day.  And the date the Titanic sank.  With lots of rich people on board.

    Coincidence? Or conspiracy?

    Sunday, April 14, 2013

    California Distinguished Schools

    I've taught at two of the schools on this list:
    Thirteen campuses in Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado and Yolo counties won California Distinguished Schools honors for 2013, the state Department of Education announced Thursday.

    The local middle and high schools are among 218 public campuses statewide recognized for their innovative approaches and academic achievement.

    Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/04/12/5336044/hed-here.html#storylink=cpy

    I Agree With A (Retired) CTA Member

    Page 8 of the April 2013 issue of the CTA mouthpiece rag contains the following "letter and comment" from a retired teacher in Palmdale:
    Cellphones are a crutch

    Regarding the article about cellphones in the classroom (March), cellphones are a crutch.  Have students use their brain, not their fingers texting for answers.

    I contacted Sprint, and for two cellphones with a two-year contract it only costs $150 a month.  If I add apps it costs more.  As a retired teacher, I can't afford one.  What about the children whose parents work for minimum wage--are they the toss-away kids left to beg and borrow from rich kids to learn something in school?

    I can just see the teacher distributing a test.  Cellphones click to take a picture for another outside friend and everyone gets 100!  Think of all the 4.9 grade point averages sent to colleges.  Throw away the damned cellphones, install a filter to stop the transmissions in the school, and go back to teaching.  What happens if the battery is dead on their cellphone and these kids have to think for themselves?
    Except for the fact that blocking wireless phone signals is illegal, I agree with this guy.  Advocates say that the information is out there, let kids access it and then they can think about it. I assert that true critical thinking, which is what every teacher says they want students to be able to do, can only take place when the student has a large base of knowledge already in his/her head and can draw on that information for integration, contrasting, or elucidating.  Merely looking up information when you need it?  What motivation would there be to learn it?

    Too often we do kids a disservice with these silly fad ideas that pop up.

    Saturday, April 13, 2013

    How I'll Spend Tonight

    http://www.sblentertainment.com/event/197705-toad-wet-sprocket-sacramento/

    Update, 4/14/2013:  I was right up at the stage, which means two things: first, I had a great view of everything, and second, I can't hear anything today!

    They played all their hits plus several new songs.  What are their hits, you may ask?  They opened with my favorite, Something's Always Wrong, and also played All I Want, Good Intentions, Fall Down, Nanci, and Crazy Life, closing out the evening with their third encore, Walk On The Ocean.  (listen to most of those songs at http://www.toadthewetsprocket.com/listen/)
    click to enlarge




    Jessie Payo (as in "pay yo' bills", she said), the opening act, was fantastic.  Pretty attractive, too!

    How I Spent Last Night

    Being a proud dad:
    http://vimeo.com/63969478
    http://vimeo.com/63969479

    Friday, April 12, 2013

    Media Bias

    If you know the name Sandra Fluke but not the name Kermit Gosnell, it's because of media bias.  What else could possibly explain the titanic differences in coverage between those two people, especially given their relative importance in the grand scheme of things?

    I'm Surprised They Reported This

    It doesn't fit the narrative:
    Extreme natural events, not man-made climate change, led to last summer's historic drought in the Great Plains, a new federal study said Friday.

    Drought occurred in six Plains states between last May and August because moist Gulf of Mexico air "failed to stream northward in late spring," and summer storms were few and stingy with rainfall, said a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    "Neither ocean states nor human-induced climate change, factors that can provide long-lead predictability, appeared to play significant roles in causing severe rainfall deficits over the major corn producing regions of central Great Plains," the report summary said.
    I've heard some TV talking head refer to that Sandy storm as evidence of man-caused global warming. I find it interesting that "weather isn't climate"--unless it comports with their Church of Global Warming dogma. 

    The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

    The good:

    Today a former student dropped by to let me know that he just graduated from one of our district's "learn it on computer" diploma programs.  I'm proud of him and pleased that he came by to tell me about it.

    The bad:

    Even though they're graduating three weeks earlier than usual, my seniors have decided that it's already summer.  It's very difficult as a teacher to deal with such nonchalance.

    The ugly:

    My sprinkler system seems to have a few shorts in it; I can identify the shorts exist but I cannot find them.

    Thursday, April 11, 2013

    End Game

    I received the results back from my 4th statistical analysis test, and took the 5th test yesterday.  Only one test remains.

    Looming over me is the course project.  I've done none of the coding yet, but tonight I wrote the introductory paragraphs.  Almost 1 page down, 9 to go--plus dozens of hours of programming and data analysis.

    But the end of this course is within sight--at least with binoculars.

    Update, 4/12/13:  I scored 49/50 on each of those tests.  One more shot at getting a perfect paper!

    Wednesday, April 10, 2013

    Open House

    I hate the idea, at least at high school.  Oh, each year I enjoy talking to parents--it's usually the parents of the good kids that show up--but to be honest, I'd rather be home with my own kid.

    Tonight something good for me came out of it.  Two former students came to visit; their mom now works at the school.  I had the older one her senior year, my first year at the school, and this is my 10th year.  Anyway, she's temporarily a substitute teacher, and now she'll be covering my classes on May 20th :-)

    Watched Every Episode of Both Shows


    Tuesday, April 09, 2013

    The Custodian Who Takes Care of My Classroom Is Awesome

    This is just gross:
    DeLand High School in Florida failed a recent health inspection with 51 cited violations. Reported by WFTV Eyewitness News, health inspector’s photos show evidence of trash stuffed in the school’s fresh air intake, roach pesticide left out in classrooms and filthy floors and walls. Other documented problems in the inspection report indicate that feral cats living under a portable building were found, as well as roach waste, parts, and smears in cabinets and a dishwasher. DeLand High School junior Adam Comeens said, "I've seen roaches in all, almost every single building I have classes in." While the school cafeteria passed inspection separately, the unsanitary conditions in the remainder of the school prompted the Volusia County Health Department inspector to recommend a rare re-inspection on May 3.

    Monday, April 08, 2013

    The Limits of Federal Power

    I'll add nothing, letting the clip from this post speak for itself:
    The Supreme Court said that in a unanimous 1925 opinion which held that the Harrison Narcotics Act could not be used to prosecute doctors who prescribe narcotics to addicts. (Previous rulings had led the DEA’s federal precursors to state that “An order purporting to be a prescription issued to an addict or habitual user of narcotics, not in the course of professional treatment but for the purpose of providing the user with narcotics sufficient to keep him comfortable by maintaining his customary use, is not a prescription within the meaning or intent of the Act: and the person filling such an order, as well as the person issuing it, may be charged with violation of the law.”)
    The court added this:
    Federal power is delegated, and its prescribed limits must not be transcended even though the end seems desirable.
    The opinion — Linder v. United States (268 U.S. 5, 1925) — even has its own Wiki entry, which notes pithily:
    With the passage of myriad later laws, including the Controlled Substance Act which gives no exemption whatsoever to Schedule I drugs, and the end of Lochner era, the holding of Linder has now been mostly overruled or superseded.
    Yeah, I would say so. But what accounts for this usurpation of power?
    My question is, if it was obvious to a unanimous Supreme Court that “direct control of medical practice in the states is beyond the power of the federal government” in 1925, and we still have the same Constitution without a single amendment giving the federal government such power, then what the hell happened?

    The College Arms Race

    I'm not saying she should be in an Ivy, but this observations strikes me as dead on:
    Colleges tell you, “Just be yourself.” That is great advice, as long as yourself has nine extracurriculars, six leadership positions, three varsity sports, killer SAT scores and two moms.
    Edublogger Joanne adds some additional true commentary:
    Teens without traumas of their own are supposed to write their admissions essays about their trip to Africa — “spending that afternoon with Kinto changed my life” — but Weiss went to summer camp instead.
    What is the point?  How many of the kids who do this so-called community service continue it in college or afterward?  If they don't, they're really not being volunteers, who by definition are kinda sorta "good people", they're just checking off a box for a college application.

    The observation that only the affluent can afford to go build schools in Mexico, or help poor kids in Kenya, is also right on the mark; the rest of America tries to get a job in the summer.

    So why do these so-called elite schools have these requirements?
    SUSAN PATTON, the Princeton alumna who became famous for her letter urging Ivy League women to use their college years to find a mate, has been denounced as a traitor to feminism, to coeducation, to the university ideal. But really she’s something much more interesting: a traitor to her class.

    Her betrayal consists of being gauche enough to acknowledge publicly a truth that everyone who’s come up through Ivy League culture knows intuitively — that elite universities are about connecting more than learning, that the social world matters far more than the classroom to undergraduates, and that rather than an escalator elevating the best and brightest from every walk of life, the meritocracy as we know it mostly works to perpetuate the existing upper class. 

    Every elite seeks its own perpetuation, of course, but that project is uniquely difficult in a society that’s formally democratic and egalitarian and colorblind. And it’s even more difficult for an elite that prides itself on its progressive politics, its social conscience, its enlightened distance from hierarchies of blood and birth and breeding. 

    Thus the importance, in the modern meritocratic culture, of the unacknowledged mechanisms that preserve privilege, reward the inside game, and ensure that the advantages enjoyed in one generation can be passed safely onward to the next. 

    The intermarriage of elite collegians is only one of these mechanisms — but it’s an enormously important one. The outraged reaction to her comments notwithstanding, Patton wasn’t telling Princetonians anything they didn’t already understand. Of course Ivy League schools double as dating services. Of course members of elites — yes, gender egalitarians, the males as well as the females — have strong incentives to marry one another, or at the very least find a spouse from within the wider meritocratic circle. What better way to double down on our pre-existing advantages? What better way to minimize, in our descendants, the chances of the dread phenomenon known as “regression to the mean”? 
    That, dear readers, was published in the New York Times.

    Getting in to college has become an arms race for no good reason.

    Sunday, April 07, 2013

    “We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents”

    Wow.  Just wow.

    New Teacher Dismissal Law

    Given what I know about the CTA, their praise for this law means that I should have reservations about it:
     AB 375, a new bill meant to streamline teacher dismissals, could be headed for quick passage after clearing the State Assembly’s Education Committee with a 7 – 0 vote Thursday.

    The bill’s chance at passing is undoubtedly aided by the announcement last week that the state’s largest teachers union, the California Teachers Association, was joining forces with Assemblymember Joan Buchanan and Senator Alex Padilla to support AB 375.

    But the alliance of Padilla and Buchanan and the quick pace of action in the statehouse have left some observers confused and concerned. Is AB 375 a watered-down teacher dismissal bill? Or have the unions, legislators, and education advocates finally come to a working compromise that will help streamline the teacher dismissal process?...

    LAUSD, StudentsFirst, EdVoice, and Democrats for Education Reform have expressed a mix of praise and concern....

    Reform-minded Gloria Romero, head of Democrats for Education Reform in California, is skeptical the bill will accomplish much. (Read her critical review of the CTA’s involvement with AB 375 in an O.C. Register column here.)

    He's A Lousy President, But...

    In this video you can see the "dad" shine through:

    I thought the way he asked for a hug was a classy touch.

    Saturday, April 06, 2013

    A Timely Reminder, Especially For The Girls

    click to enlarge
    This has been on my board for the last week, and will probably stay there for one more.

    It's school, not the beach.  You don't have to dress like you're in Congress, but neither should you be wearing Daisy Dukes to class.  Seriously.

    Coaching Vs. Teaching

    The basketball coach at Rutgers got fired for being abusive towards players and it's making major news.  I chuckled at this comment:
    Mike Rice got a big head because he thought he was a big deal.  He wasn’t.  He was in a position to inspire and lead a team.  That’s a nice opportunity, probably a little less important than teaching math, but nice.  It certainly isn’t like leading an army opposing communism.  And he even blew that small job.
    The name of the article gives you a sense of the author's leanings: "Sports don't matter, not one iota".

    Apologizing For Complimenting Someone's Looks

    It's a minor tempest but still entertaining to watch.
    California's attorney general received an apology call from President Barack Obama Thursday after he told a crowd of Democratic donors she was "by far the best-looking attorney general."
    To be honest, I'm still trying to understand what's wrong with "binders of women".  Ok, I'm really not trying to understand it, I know it was just something the lefties (successfully) latched onto and pretended to be offended by, even though there's no possible way any sane person could be offended by it.  But the media firestorm over that comment was certainly far more muted than the current cool breeze, and as Exhibit A I offer the headline for the linked article above: "Obama apologizes for quip, which some called sexist".  Some.  I don't recall seeing that kind of squishiness in stories about those awful, horrible, sexist binders, and I'm not the only one noticing this:
    It's a good thing that Barack Obama is only the president of the United States and leader of the free world, and that he doesn't have a really important job like television sportscaster.

    Because in that other role, as we learned a few months ago, a man is simply not allowed to publicly compliment a woman on her good looks without getting in big trouble.

    Just ask Brent Musburger...
     
    So what did Musburger say back then that was so terrible? As the camera focused on Webb, a former Miss Alabama, in the stands, the sportscaster turned to his co-announcer Kirk Herbstreit, a former quarterback at Ohio State University, and said: "You quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women. What a beautiful woman."

    The cad.
    I don't often agree with Navarrette, but he's on a roll in this piece:
    By contrast, Obama isn't catching much criticism for a similar comment that he made Thursday during a swing through California. The wince-inducing remark may have been nothing more than innocent banter between old friends, as Obama supporters claimed. But it is also undeniably sexist.

    How do we know? Because the comment objectifies a professional woman, and it is not something that you're likely to hear said about a man with the same credentials.

    It all happened at a fundraising lunch Thursday in Atherton, California, as Obama was rattling off the qualities of California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is often mentioned as a likely future gubernatorial candidate...

    "She's brilliant and she's dedicated, she's tough," Obama said in describing our state's chief law enforcement officer. "She also happens to be, by far, the best-looking attorney general in the country."

    The fact that the crowd responded with a mixture of chuckles and groans must have signaled to the president that he had stepped in it.

    "It's true," he told the crowd. "Come on."

    No, Mr. President, you come on. This is how you talk about a colleague, a fellow elected official, a fellow lawyer with the goods to compete head to head with any man in the country?

    All this talk about how Barack Obama is a different type of leader for a new century, one unencumbered by the prejudices and stereotypes that plagued earlier generations and one who symbolizes how far we've come. And this is what we get?

    "The West Wing" meets "Mad Men."
    It's not just the media giving Obama a pass after having jumped on Romney's entirely innocuous remarks:
    So, when a reporter for the Fresno Bee asked Patty Bellasalma, president of the California chapter of National Organization for Women, about the president's comments, she couldn't hide her disgust.

    Not for the president. But for the reporter.

    "I wish (this call) was about something substantive," Bellasalma told the journalist. "I think that is my reaction, is that that seems to be the only time that the California National Organization for Women gets called isn't when full-scope pregnancy coverage is being cut from the budget or something other that's going to impact women in a detrimental way right here in this city in the state government. But we worry about whether the president thinks Kamala Harris is pretty. I guess my comment is no comment, because we're too busy trying to protect women and girls."
    Aren't they protecting them from men who objectify women?  Navarrette calls a spade a spade here:
    There is only one reason the president is skating on these remarks. It's because the people who normally complain about this stuff -- the folks who make up the grievance lobby -- are among his strongest supporters.
    This is an example of selective outrage and double standards. That part of the story isn't pretty.
    I wonder if this is Navarrette's first time noticing this double standard.

    Thursday, April 04, 2013

    Math In The Real World

    I certainly don't agree with the drooling over the Common Core standards in this article, but the lack of math knowledge is obvious and important:
    Before job-seekers fill out an application for work making foam products for the aerospace industry at General Plastics Manufacturing Co. in Tacoma, Wash., they have to take a math test.

    Eighteen questions, 30 minutes, and using a calculator is OK.

    They are asked how to convert inches to feet, read a tape measure and find the density of a block of foam (mass divided by volume).

    Basic middle school math, right?

    But what troubles General Plastics executive Eric Hahn is that although the company considers only prospective workers who have a high school education, only one in 10 who take the test pass. And that’s not just bad luck at a single factory or in a single industry.
    No math teacher doubts that observation, what many of us doubt is the so-called cure.  Having students write about math isn't a real cure.  Group work isn't a cure.  Collaboration requires everyone have some background knowledge on which to draw so everyone can contribute.  I wouldn't mind cutting a few topics out so we had more time to cover the remaining topics more deeply, but to insist on so-called discovery learning is an exceedingly inefficient use of instructional time.

    Instead of trying to make math "fun" or "applicable", perhaps we could consider instilling in students, or insisting on, some perseverance and a sense of responsibility, and maybe even some delayed gratification.  I wonder if employers might want those traits, too, in addition to the math knowledge students might have if they demonstrated those traits while in school.

    Just saying.

    Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/04/03/187626/math-problems-are-a-problem-for.html#storylink=cpy

    Grading At Home

    I try never to bring work home with me. I might stay an hour after school and grade tests, but that's far preferable to bringing the tests home with me. In addition to keeping home and work separate, it forces me to focus on doing the work so I can go home. I've always thought it odd that English teachers take essays home to read them.

    Now I understand. I'm reading project write-ups from my statistics students. I don't need to follow detailed calculations, I need to read and comment.  Such work is very amenable to being done on the couch with a cup of cardamom tea, much more so than grading math tests is.

    Wednesday, April 03, 2013

    Gun Control and Abortion

    Gun control advocates/lefties (but I repeat myself):  you want to take away my rights because some people (the famous ones of late have all been Democrats) abuse the right to own firearms?  Turnabout is fair play, after all--what say we take away abortion rights because some people (I doubt this guy's a Republican, btw) abuse that so-called right?
    Gosnell made millions performing illegal late-term and after-birth abortions. The bigger the baby, the bigger the payday was his creed.

    The abortion rights movement has long insisted that unborn babies are nothing but clumps of tissue. But the only clumps of tissue evident at Gosnell’s trial, which started on March 18, have been those used to soak up the tears shed by former employees and patients who recounted what took place in Gosnell’s “house of horrors.”

    Former medical assistant Adrienne Moton cried as she told how she killed at least 10 late-term babies after they were delivered. She was struck, she said, at how life-like one of the babies looked as it lay dead before her...

    Like most cities, Philadelphia has no shortage of abortion facilities. It is proof of the power of the abortion lobby, which regards any effort at oversight or regulation as an infringement of a woman’s constitutional right, that Gosnell was able to dispense death so haphazardly for so long.
    At least the right I'm trying to defend is explicitly stated/enshrined in the Constitution.

    Still want to end rights for everyone because of the misdeeds of a few?  If not, how do you justify this difference in situations?

    Malodorous Suspension

    I completely support this--no other kid should have to sit near someone who reeks:
    An eight-year-old Tennessee girl has been sent home from school 24 times this school year because of what her mother describes as her foul odor.

    The second-grader's mother, Krystal Hensley, told WJHL.com that officials at the unidentified Washington County school continue to send her daughter home despite attempts to correct the problem.
    Honestly, it doesn't matter whose "fault" the stink is, if anyone's.  No one else should have to suffer through that.

    Tuesday, April 02, 2013

    Latest Tactic: Declare Someone "Intolerant", Demonize Them, Then Ostracize Them

    Is this really how people, especially at a university, should be acting?
    The Student Government Association at Johns Hopkins University has denied official recognition to a group of pro-life students, and one SGA leader privately equated them with white supremacists.
    Read the article; I'm not the only one who thinks this is viewpoint discrimination.

    Monday, April 01, 2013

    If Only California Would Do This Regarding Teachers Unions

    There’s quite a row occurring over the ability of the Arizona Students Association, “a private group that lobbies on behalf of Arizona’s public university students,” to receive mandatory fees from every student in the entire University of Arizona system. Currently, the system’s 130,000 students each must pay $2 annually to fund the group.

    The problem is, the association did not confine its activities to working for students, but was instead directing funds to liberal causes. In response, the system’s Board of Regents voted to end the association’s mandatory fee collection and make it optional as of this coming fall. The association has responded as one would expect a liberal political organization to do: It is suing to get its free money back.  link
    I'm curious how anyone could try to justify having a government agency (my school district) forcibly take money from me and give it to a non-governmental agency that I don't want to have anything to do with!  And all this happens as a condition of employment!

    Free association.  I don't want to associate with a union and shouldn't have to.  Why students should be required to support any particular organization is equally baffling to me.

    This Is NOT A First Amendment Issue

    I get so tired of reporters who think they're in this special class all by themselves, who think they alone can cut deals for secrecy and ignore, with impunity, a judge's ruling to violate that promise.  The 1st Amendment allows you to print what you want, it doesn't allow you to do whatever you think is right in order to get the information you print:
    The FoxNews.com reporter who broke the exclusive story about a notebook that Colorado shooter James Holmes sent to his psychiatrist, then refused to reveal her sources under threat of jail, was ordered to return to the Aurora courtroom April 10,  in a case experts say has chilling ramifications for the First Amendment.
    Wrong. It has absolutely no ramifications for the 1st Amendment.  Reporters are not a special class of people, and the freedom of the press belongs as much to me, a blogger--the political descendent of Thomas Paine and other pamphleteers--as it does to a reporter who works for FoxNews.

    If you (wrongly) argue that keeping sources secret is necessary to a free press, then I ask, doesn't taxation limit the free press?  After all, if news companies must pay corporate taxes and property taxes and all the rest, isn't that an infringement on the freedom of press?

    The answer is, of course, self-evidently, no.  But that doesn't keep the reporters from pushing the issue, and making fools of themselves in the process.

    Rot in jail, kid.

    A Phrase To Break Your Heart

    Want to read a phrase that’ll break your heart?  “Forever home.”  I read it in this article.  It’s what potentially adoptive children call what most of us probably took for granted.

    The gist of the article:  gay marriage isn't enough to solve our adoption problem:
    That said, let's not get our hopes up for a gay marriage adoption revolution.

    There are, to a first approximation, zero healthy adoptable babies in the US foster care system.  Of the 400,000 kids in the system, as Ezra points out, 300,000 can't be adopted because there's a relative still in the picture who hopes to get that kid back.  Of the 100,000 who can be adopted, very few of them fit the criteria that most couples (including gay ones) have for adoption...
    "Forever home."  That's what I took from the article.