Monday, February 29, 2016

How Can We Hold Parents Responsible For Anything?

Using the logic of the SF school district, we should give kids alcohol so they won't use illegal drugs:
All San Francisco middle school students now have easy access to condoms, whether or not their parents want them to have them.

The San Francisco Unified School District became the third in California – after Oakland and Los Angeles – to give away condoms to middle schoolers when board members unanimously approved the decision at a meeting Tuesday night, NBC Bay Area reports.

SFUSD safety and wellness director Kevon Gogin said the decision is based on a survey of sixth through eighth grade students that showed about 5 percent are sexually active and 3 percent use condoms. 
They're going to encourage what any thinking adult knows is unwise (what junior high kid is emotionally ready for sex?) because 5% already do it?  5%?

How can we as a society hold parents responsible for anything their children do when the government (the school system) undermines parental authority and responsibility?

There's A Lesson Here

Do you remember Michael Fay?  He was the American teenager who committed vandalism and theft in Singapore and was sentenced to caning back in 1994.  To put it bluntly, he got his butt whipped with a stick.  While many in America viewed the punishment as harsh, it was a lesson that some countries actually enforce their laws and your excuses and prevarications will not protect you there.

Fast forward to today, where an American university student is under arrest in North Korea for theft:
North Korea presented a detained American student before the media on Monday in Pyongyang, where he tearfully apologized for attempting to steal a political banner -- at the behest, he said, of a member of a church back home who wanted it as a "trophy" -- from a staff-only section of the hotel where he had been staying.

North Korea announced in late January it had arrested Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student. It said that after entering the country as a tourist he committed an anti-state crime with "the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation."

No details of what kind of charges or punishment Warmbier faces were immediately released.

According to Warmbier's statement Monday, he wanted the banner with a political slogan on it as a trophy for the church member, who was the mother of a friend...

He was arrested while visiting the country with Young Pioneer Tours, an agency specializing in travel to the North, which is strongly discouraged by the U.S. State Department.
He is not a "hostage", contrary to the Fox News video at the link.  He is a thief.

Of course I think that criminal penalties in some countries are unnecessarily harsh.  On the other hand, if you go to other countries, you must obey their laws.  The fact that we don't enforce our laws in this country (illegal immigration, for starters) doesn't mean that other countries don't enforce theirs.  You don't have the right to "freedom of speech" or "trial by your peers" or any other such rights if those countries don't allow them.  And you don't have the right not to suffer corporal punishment a la Michael Fay, or the "right" not to be sentenced to hard labor for theft of a banner a la Otto Warmbier, when you go to other countries.

I have two quotes to offer.  "Stupid should hurt."  "The stupid is strong with this one."  I hope he's learning his lesson after spending several weeks in a North Korean jail cell.  I also hope he'll be released soon.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Micromanaging Teachers

I'm all for having a consistent set of content standards to which all teachers of a course teach.  I not all for having every class of every course on the same page every day, or requiring everyone to grade exactly the same way:
Because our supervisory district administration aren't really teachers, and our curriculum coordinator used to teach elementary school and some MS social studies, everything must have a rubric or it isn't proper. As well, everything we used to do was BAD and must be changed.

We're being asked, "Do we use a rubric? Since your answer should be 'yes', which one of these four is the one you're all going to use?"

The fact that we spent nearly an hour discussing whether to use the word "proficient", "competent", or "skilled", and whether the top level would be modified with "highly", "advanced", or "with distinction" should give you a good idea of how divorced this all was from real students and real teaching. We never did finish that conversation, but we did begin to spend time arguing over whether the four levels should be considered five if there was a checkbox labelled "Not Enough Data to Measure" in addition to Highly 'word', 'word', Nearly 'word', Beginning 'word'.

The funny part is the explicit statement is that we will use the same rubric throughout the building, that every teacher, in every course, for every student, for every transferable skill (the non-content skills), will use the same rubric to determine proficiency. If any measurement does not use the rubric, it isn't measured properly and cannot be defended as fair and consistent across the board...

Trying to impose a common rubric for AP Calculus and 7th-grade civics is foolish and counter-productive.

Trying to impose consistency even within our department is foolish and counter-productive. He's a math major; I'm an engineer; of course we look at things differently.

He uses the calculators more than I do; I ask for more mental math than he does. "Who's better?" misses the point that, over the course of four years, students get both.
When a teacher is not allowed to use the word "proficient" because it's not a "growth word", something is wrong. Very, very wrong.  When teaching becomes overly scripted and managed, something is wrong.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Yet Another Example of Forcing School Into Where It Doesn't Belong

Don't we have enough issues to deal with at school, without having to deal with teenage sexting as well?  If it's happening at school, that's one thing, but if it's happening outside of school, why should the school be involved at all?
Concerned by a practice he’s said is becoming more prevalent in schools, a state lawmaker is carrying a bill that would let schools suspend or expel kids for so-called sexting – sharing explicit pictures and recordings via electronic message. Assembly Bill 2536 would also require that health classes include information on the perils of sharing scandalous content.

The bill specifically deals with images or video – lascivious language isn’t enough – and focuses on cases where the communication has “the effect of humiliating or harassing a pupil.” It exempts images that have “serious literary, artistic, educational, political, or scientific value.”

“Over the last few years we have heard many stories about the impacts of sexting. Sexting has real consequences,” the bill’s author, Assemblyman Ed Chau, D-Arcadia, said in an interview. “You basically have a sexting issue and then that issue is exacerbated by the proliferation of these smartphones,” which Chau said is fueling more cyberbullying.
The "effect on a pupil" argument is so slippery.  Just about everything has an effect on kids ("pupils"), are we going to give schools the authority to, for example, suspend kids for not inviting someone to their party (it "hurt their feelings")?  Are we going to give schools the authority to, for example, suspend students who have sex?  Are we going to give schools the authority to, for example, suspend kids who attend the "wrong" meetings outside of school, (again, "hurting the feelings" of others)?

If I've said it once, I've said it 8 zillion times--schools need to worry about what goes on during school.  Anything else is the responsibility of the parents or the police.

Education Spending News Out Of California

From the major Sacramento newspaper:
Three years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown persuaded legislators to overhaul how tens of billions of dollars in state aid flows to schools.

It pumped more money to schools, virtually eliminated strings on billions of dollars that had been restricted to particular programs, and gave additional aid to districts with large numbers of poor and “English learner” students.

The rationale was that educators would have more money and flexibility to improve educations for 6-plus million kids and close the “achievement gap” that separated – and still separates – poor black and Latino students from their white and Asian American classmates.

Simultaneously, the state was abolishing its test-driven oversight system, creating a new “multiple measures” system that would be, it was said, “a flashlight and not a hammer,” and trusting local school officials to do the right thing through “Local Control Accountability Plans” (LCAPs) that would involve parents and taxpayers.

So how’s all that working out? No one knows.

The “multiple measures” system is still being drafted in impenetrable educational jargon, and the LCAPs are drawing criticism for their own opaqueness. New academic tests, keyed to a new Common Core curriculum, have been administered, but educators insist that they are too new to be meaningful.
I'm wondering if the best California legislators can do is end daylight savings time.

Read more here:

How We Learn Math

I have found this to be true:
Over the past several decades, math education in the United States has shifted from the traditional model of math instruction to “reform math”. The traditional model has been criticized for relying on rote memorization rather than conceptual understanding. Calling the traditional approach “skills based”, math reformers deride it and claim that it teaches students only how to follow the teacher’s direction in solving routine problems, but does not teach students how to think critically or to solve non-routine problems. Traditional/skills-based teaching, the argument goes, doesn’t meet the demands of our 21st century world.

As I’ve discussed elsewhere, the criticism of traditional math teaching is based largely on a mischaracterization of how it is/has been taught, and misrepresented as having failed thousands of students in math education despite evidence of its effectiveness in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. Reacting to this characterization of the traditional model, math reformers promote a teaching approach in which understanding and process dominate over content. In lower grades, mental math and number sense are emphasized before students are fluent with procedures and number facts. Procedural fluency is seldom achieved. In lieu of the standard methods for adding/subtracting, multiplying and dividing, in some programs students are taught strategies and alternative methods. Whole class and teacher-led explicit instruction (and even teacher-led discovery) has given way to what the education establishment believes is superior: students working in groups in a collaborative learning environment. Classrooms have become student-centered and inquiry-based. The grouping of students by ability has almost entirely disappeared in the lower grades—full inclusion has become the norm. Reformers dismiss the possibility that understanding and discovery can be achieved by students working on sets of math problems individually and that procedural fluency is a prerequisite to understanding. Much of the education establishment now believes it is the other way around; if students have the understanding, then the need to work many problems (which they term “drill and kill”) can be avoided.

The de-emphasis on mastery of basic facts, skills and procedures has met with growing opposition, not only from parents but also from university mathematicians. At a recent conference on math education held in Winnipeg, math professor Stephen Wilson from Johns Hopkins University said, much to the consternation of the educationists on the panel, that “the way mathematicians learn is to learn how to do it first and then figure out how it works later.” This sentiment was also echoed in an article written by Keith Devlin (2006). Such opposition has had limited success, however, in turning the tide away from reform approaches.  (boldface mine--Darren)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Old School

When I was in 8th grade (during Carter's presidency!) I got a waterbed.  I still use the frame, but for the past decade-plus I've had an ordinary mattress in it.

I've missed sleeping on a waterbed.

Lately I've been waking up several times during the night, it's not good rest.

A few weeks ago I went to the same store where the bed was purchased (it's probably the only waterbed place left in Sacramento) and ordered a new mattress.  They custom-ordered it from a company in Carson City.  A couple days ago it came in.

I set it up and filled it on Wednesday.  It would take longer than an evening to warm up, though, so my sleep that night wasn't very restful--unless you consider sleeping on an iceberg restful, which I do not.

But last night...last night it was fully heated.  The new fleece sheets were on.  And I crawled in.  So soft, so toasty warm.  I slept for 6 hrs before waking up, turned the pillow over, and slept for another hour and a half or so.  It was heaven.

I'm looking forward to being tired tonight so I have an excuse to sleep in it again.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

I Thought This "Campus Free Speech" Business Was Settled During The Vietnam War

I thought that, but I was wrong.  If it must be fought, though, I'm glad FIRE is on the case:
Last fall, the student groups held an outdoor event displaying posters with examples of expression that had been censored on campuses across the country. Three other students filed formal complaints, claiming that some of the posters were “offensive” and “triggering.” In response, USC served Abbott with a “Notice of Charge” letter and launched an investigation for “discrimination,” threatening him with punishment up to and including expulsion for his protected speech.

Abbott and the campus chapters of YAL and the College Libertarians are now suing USC for violating their free speech rights. FIRE is sponsoring the lawsuit, the twelfth in FIRE’s undefeated national Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project

“The University of South Carolina is so intolerant of free speech that students can’t even talk about free speech,” said Catherine Sevcenko, FIRE’s director of litigation.
In case you missed it, let's try part of that again, with gusto:
FIRE is sponsoring the lawsuit, the twelfth in FIRE’s undefeated national Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project.  
That they have won so many, and lost none, tells you how anti-First Amendment our universities have become. 

Want Even More Evidence of Media Bias?

Here's yet another one:

Networks Hyped Perry Indictment in 2014; Silent on Dismissal

I wonder if it's because he has an (R) after his name?  No, you're right, I don't really wonder at all.

Let Us Pray It Ends!

Here's a bill (in California, no less!) that I can support:
Springing forward and falling back would be reserved for gymnasts under a California bill seeking to eliminate daylight saving time.

If you’ve ever awoken an hour early, showed up to work an hour late or groaned at having to reset all your clocks because of the biannual time shifts, Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, feels your pain.

“I heard some complaints last year from some of the senior citizens (in my district) and their care providers who say this one-hour difference really impacted their lives,” Chu said...

Hence Assembly Bill 2496, which would end the practice in California, undoing a law that voters approved back in 1949 via Proposition 12.
I mean, seriously.  If you can't even decide in which time zone your state belongs....

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Due Process Strikes Back

Let's hope this rationality and stroke of simple reason continue:
Thus, Smith upheld the student's allegation that he was discriminated against because of his male gender, which led Brown to reach an erroneous outcome in suspending him for two-and-a-half years.

The accused student's lawsuit also argued a breach of contract with Brown over the school's treatment of him once he was accused. The student argued 11 counts of a breach of contract, and Judge Smith upheld seven while granting Brown's motion to dismiss the other four.

On one count, Smith found that Brown violated its own code of conduct when it treated the accused student as guilty from the start and banned him from school resources, even though the code allows all students access to its facilities. Brown also erred, according to Smith, when it allowed an administrator not specifically named in the code of conduct as having the authority to remove a student from campus to ban the accused student from the campus...

"Most important however, is that Judge Smith offers groundbreaking analysis in stating: 'Requiring that a male student conclusively demonstrate, at the pleading stage, with evidence and/or data analysis that female students accused of sexual assault were treated differently is both practically impossible and inconsistent with the standard used in other discrimination contexts,'" Miltenberg (the student's attorney) added. "We expect this decision to have a significant impact on the manner in which courts view Title IX cases."
It would be nice to get past these Salem witch trials.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A One-Track Mind

Today, as my stats students were working on a 2-sample t-test project determining if one version of a chapter test is statistically significantly harder than another, I planned a project for the next chapter.  My students have done the same project for the past few years now, one that involves the proportion of left-handed students at school, but I want to try something different this year.

I got a report of the birth date of every student in school and was able, without too much effort, to get just the birth month for each of our approximately 1600 students.  The project will be for students to determine if the proportion of students born in any specific month is about what we'd expect given the length of each month.  In other words, are births spread out evenly throughout the year?

Most of the months had numbers close to what we'd expect, but a bar chart of births per month showed September sticking out like a bump on a log.  I showed the chart and data to some nearby students, and almost immediately one boy said, "New Years."

Throw in Christmas parties and Christmas and I'm sure he was correct.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now?

No exotic trips for me this summer.  Perhaps I'll just hitch up the Egg-terprise and head off to Calgary, Alberta. 

And perhaps I'll attend this, in a town named for the Roman god of fire.

Not A Bad Start For Age 20, But...

When you're a teacher and you see an article titled This Author Thinks He Knows How To Stop Kids From Hating School, you have to stop and read it.  When you learn that the referenced author is only 20 you feel a little let down, because you know where the article is going to go--straight to Angst-town.

The author is 20 and didn't like school.  He stereotypes (but perhaps not unnecessarily so) and extrapolates--and then comes up with the ideal school:
Goyal documents his research in a new book, Schools on Trial: How Freedom and Creativity Can Fix Our Educational Malpractice. He looks to progressive, democratic schools -- both public and private -- in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia, as models of what's possible. These schools encourage students to take control of their educational experiences, design their own curriculum and play as much as possible. They create happy environments, where bullying is virtually non-existent, Goyal writes....
Hm.  Amazing that that's never been suggested before (except it has been, in every generation since Rousseau).  And my counter to his proposal is the same I've had to Rousseau, to Pestalozzi, to Freire:
According to one Kieran Egan, “Bertrand Russell, after his first disastrous experiment in organizing a school, observed that the first task of education is to destroy the tyranny of the local and immediate over the child’s imagination."
That's not to say that students shouldn't have a wide choice of classes from which to choose.  I think schools should have more electives, not fewer, and students should be allowed more freedom to choose.  I wouldn't go as far as Goyal suggests, though.  Neither am I willing to be completely swayed that we should change our entire educational system because he didn't like school.

As for the next quote, I'm willing to believe that perhaps Huffington Post incorrectly used "destruct" rather than "deconstruct".  If he actually said and meant "destruct", well, then he's just in idiot; why should schools, paid for by contributing members of society, encouraging "destructing" that very society?
I think they're creating docile, passive adults who largely are not capable of complex, critical thinking.

I think they generally create people who fit into the social order and don’t look to destruct it as much. It's very rare for kids to come out of school with a lot of their imagination and curiosity intact.
I'm on record as saying that a prerequisite to critical thinking is having a large base of knowledge about which to think critically.  And Goyal here paints with an extremely broad brush, one I'm not sure that he's intellectually capable of handling.  Really, it's "very rare" for kids to graduate with imagination and curiousity?  Really?

I'm sure Goyal is well-meaning and may very well have some good ideas.  The ideas expressed in the linked article certainly aren't bad for a man of 20--but I'm not ready to "destruct" our educational system and replace it with his, not just yet.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

All Good Things

Break is over, school starts back up tomorrow.  That means I'm back in "school week" mode, which also means that I'll start doing my homework again tonight on my normal schedule.  I worked on it only 2 of 5 days this past week, but fortunately I was (and still am) far enough ahead in the course that I can get away with that.

I really should get to writing my paper.  A rough draft of it is due in just over a month--and Spring Break is in there somewhere!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Unnecessary--Common Core Is On The Job!

I've been under the incorrect (?) impression that Common Core is supposed to solve all of society's problems, and perhaps even bring about a thousand years of peace:
Tucked inside Gov. Jerry Brown’s projected 2016-17 budget is a proposal for an unusual state-funded competition to address a long-standing challenge facing high school seniors: getting them better prepared for college-level math.

Brown is proposing spending $3 million for a competition to develop a year-long math course that is closely aligned with the California State University’s expectations for incoming freshmen, and will help students avoid having to take remedial classes when they get there.

In higher education circles, educators increasingly refer to these classes as “developmental classes,” in part to remove the stigma that may be associated with the “remedial” label.

The governor’s budget proposal noted that a high school course already exists to better prepare students for college-level English – the Expository Reading and Writing Course – which is now being taught in most high schools in the state...

The additional high school course would mesh with the Common Core State Standards, which envisage a three-year sequence of math courses but also strongly recommend a fourth year, without specifying what that fourth-year course should be...

In particular, the new math course could help students master Algebra 2. WestEd’s Finkelstein noted that Algebra 2 is a hard, discouraging experience for many students in the 11th grade, leading them to abandon math entirely after taking the class. He estimates that 30 percent of students don’t take any math in the 12th grade. Other estimates put that figure as high as 40 percent. That means that large numbers of students are likely to arrive in college unprepared for college-level math, and that they will have to take developmental classes to catch up. It might also disqualify them altogether from admission to most UC campuses.
We won't even teach Algebra 2 at my school anymore.  We teach integrated math.  Maybe this proposed course should prepare students for "integrated math 3".

Read the entire article at

There Is Hope For The Friedrichs Case

Justice Scalia's death threw a lot of cases up in the air.  Here is a little reassurance regarding the Friedrichs case:
Below is a list of frequently asked questions and their respective answers:
  1. How will Justice Scalia’s passing impact the case?
  2. First and foremost, the Friedrichs case is not over. However, as a result of a potential tie decision, the Center for Individual Rights has announced plans to argue that the case be re-heard when a full Supreme Court can render an authoritative decision.
  3. What would happen if a tie vote were to be made?
  4. If the Supreme Court were to issue a 4-4 decision, the lower court ruling could be upheld.  Waiting for a new justice to be seated will once and for all give teachers the answers they deserve about their free speech rights.
  5. When will the case be re-heard?
  6. While much is still uncertain about the eventual Supreme Court nominee and approval process, experts expect the case to be re-heard during the courts next term, which begins in October of this year. This could mean a year-long delay of the final resolution of the case.
  7. Has this ever happened before?
  8. Yes! There are decades-old examples of the U.S. Supreme Court re-hearing cases that have already been argued once a new justice is appointed to the court.
  9. Union supporters think the case is over. Is that true?
    The Center for Individual Rights – representing the AAE plaintiff teachers in Friedrichs vs. CTA – issued the following statement addressing this issue:

    “Union supporters who proclaimed Friedrichs done and over with within hours of Justice Scalia’s death miss what is at the heart of this case:  the crucial need for our Supreme Court to settle controversial questions of individual rights — rights that affect all Americans — authoritatively.  These central First Amendment issues need to be settled after full deliberation, not as the result of the tragic and untimely death of one Justice.  Friedrichs needs to be heard and decided by a full Court.”
    Read the full statement.
Dare I hope again?

Poor Little Lambs

Do they know, or even care, how pathetic they sound?
Brown University students are whining that classes and homework are interfering with their social-justice activism — and it’s, like, totally unfair for sensitive, forward-thinking minds like theirs to be expected to do so much schoolwork at school. Yes, you read that right . . . expectations to do schoolwork at school are oppressive, and it is a very, very serious problem: “There are people breaking down, dropping out of classes and failing classes because of the activism work they are taking on,” one anonymous student, referred to as “David,” told the Brown Daily Herald...

So, given this, I have to ask: If having to do course work at college is too much for you — even with an extension — why are you at college? Call me crazy, but I thought that the point of being a college student was to go to classes and complete assignments to earn a degree. How else could it possibly work? You just earn one by going there? By being physically present within a certain radius of a classroom? What exactly do these kids want?
Pampered, spoiled, narcissistic. My generation created this, and for that I am truly disappointed.

Here's the solution:
If you want to do no college coursework and full-time social-justice work, how about just not going to college and doing social justice work full time?
Oh, that won't work--because it would be work, and work is harrrrrrrrrrrrrd.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Universities, Free Speech, and Bravery

Yesterday, Adam Falk, the president of Williams College, disgraced himself, the college that he leads, and the institution of free speech that he has claimed to support. He did this by disinviting John Derbyshire, the mathematician and commentator, from speaking at Williams for a student-run program called "Uncomfortable Learning," a series specifically designed to bring serious but alternative points of view to the expensive (this year's tab: $63,290) and coddled purlieus of Williamstown, Massachusetts, where nearly all the faculty are left-leaning and the students, with rare exceptions, are timid if irritable politically correct babies...

John Derbyshire's unpardonable offense is to have opinions about race that differ from those certified by the examining board of politically correct attitudes. Those opinions mandate, for example, that it is OK to say "Black Lives Matter," but not "White Lives Matter," or even "All Lives Matter," which is held to be racist (yes, really). It's OK to say that you believe in genetics, but you must never, ever ask questions like: "Is intelligence or social behavior heritable?"  That, too, is held to be deeply racist, just as asking questions like "Do men, in general,  display greater aptitude for math than women?" is impermissible. (And note well: you can't even ask the questions, let alone answer them in the wrong way.)

John Derbyshire inadvertently burned his bridges with the politically correct establishment back in 2012 when he published an article expressing some of his thoughts on the realities of race in contemporary America. You can read his offending column here and learn a bit more about his views from an interview he conducted with Gawker here...

By his disreputable actions yesterday, Adam Falk has indisputably joined the ranks of the neo-McCarthyites who, basking in the conviction of their own virtue, present themselves as staunch defenders of free speech just so long as there is no cost to do so.  link
Then there should be a cost.

I'm not against having "horrible" people speak at universities, or against appropriate protests by those who who still allow a person to speak (rather than disrupt or cause speeches to be canceled).  I'm certainly against horrible people being held up as exemplars, though, as was the case a year and a half ago at UCLA.

Update, 2/20/16:  I'm always up for A Modest Proposal:
After my column appeared, a friend of liberty at Williams pointed out to me that the college library contains some books written by Derbyshire.  He said two, but a little investigation revealed that the Sawyer Library actually contains four printed books by Derbyshire...

Indeed, let us now move to my modest proposal.  If  John Derbyshire is a practitioner of "hate speech," as Adam Falk assured us he was, then how can Williams College, an echt correct institution where everyone believes (or at least says) the same thing about all contentious issues regarding sex, race, the virtues (or, more to the point, the vices) of traditional American values and, oh, so many other things — how can Williams, I say, countenance the presence in its midst of not one, not two, but FOUR books by the swine Derbyshire?

Adam Falk made a preliminary gesture by disinviting John Derbyshire from coming to Williams. But surely, when Williams has in its possession four of Derbyshire's books,  that is too timid a response.  He and the deans and all right-minded (by which I mean left-leaning) students should organize a public holocaust of Derbyshire's books.  After all, the works of someone who is guilty of expressing contraband opinions must not be allowed the implicit endorsement of space on the shelves of Sawyer Library....Burning his books in public, with appropriate expressions of contrition laced with smug self-satisfaction, should go a long way towards providing a much needed catharsis.  The event should, of course, be filmed and made widely available as a model of how the contemporary American college and university ought to deal with speech that its self-appointed guardians disagree with.  It is sure to be an exemplary performance, and I am only sorry (though I am not surprised) that the Williams library has no books by me to add to the conflagration.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

More Darned Expenses

I took a friend out to lunch today; that was voluntary, so it doesn't count as an expense.

I noticed that my vacuum cleaner wasn't working.  It' didn't take long to figure out that the belt had broken, but what caused it?  Not being a talented repair guy and just magically knowing how it was supposed to work, it took me another 15 minutes or so just to figure out that the roller itself was bad--and that is what caused the belt to break.  $35 in parts on Bissell's web site.

I went out to visit some family tonight.  I have a Camry; after you turn the car off, the lights stay on for about 30 seconds, presumably so you can get to the door of the house without being in the dark.  Anyway, I noticed one of the taillights is out.  I'll make a trip to Auto Zone tomorrow...should I do that before or after I plug in the code reader to find out why my Check Engine light is still on?

My first-world problems are pretty severe.

Update, 2/19/16:   Used the code reader to turn off the Check Engine light and it has yet to come back on.  Could it be that the new gas cap fixed the problem?

Also, I had a light bulb left over from the last time I changed bulbs out--so no additional cost for the car!

The vacuum cleaner parts should arrive next Tuesday.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Not A Slacker Any Longer

I'm on break this week, but that doesn't mean I can just take the week off from my master's class.  Yes, it's a class that I must do at my own pace for the most part, but that pace assumes only one week of vacation for Spring Break and not a February Ski Week as well as Spring Break.  Still, I've been less than diligent the last couple days.

That isn't really a problem.  I'm far enough ahead of where I should be that taking a couple days off isn't going to hurt me.  However, I don't want to get into the habit of being lazy and not doing the work.  After all, those two big papers aren't going to write themselves!  And all that reading and the response writings aren't going to do themselves, either.

But absent a strong motivator and a specified block of time for homework, it just doesn't get done.  When I'm working I block out 5-7 pm for schoolwork, with a quick dinner in there somewhere.  Homework has to be done between the time I get home from work and when I go to bed.  But during vacation, when I don't have to work and have no reason to go to bed at a specific time, I also don't have the motivation to do my homework.

That changed yesterday, though, when I received a book in the mail from the library at the University of Idaho.

My big research paper this semester is tentatively titled The Rise And Fall of the No Child Left Behind Act.  I'm going all the way back to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to start telling of the rise--but the genesis seems to be a woman, Alice Rivlin, seemingly unknown in academic circles.  She ran a small office in the Dept of Health, Education, and Welfare that helped introduce the concept of accountability (among other things) into education.  Her 1971 book Systematic Thinking for Social Action, clearly written from a liberal perspective, is essentially a clarion call for the No Child Left Behind Act.  I started reading the book today and didn't stop until I was done, 144 pages later along with over 5 pages of notes and quotes.  I didn't do 3 days' worth of work today, but I'm quite pleased with what I accomplished.  I did enough.

I toyed with whether or not to change the focus of my research paper and focus more on this book.  Since the course is History of Educational Thought, I decided to stick with my original plan of starting in 1965 and tracing the development of NCLB until its passage in January, 2002.  That requires giving this book short shrift, though, keeping it merely as one strong thread in the tapestry that became NCLB.  The paper is limited to no more than 7 pages so I can't delve too deeply into this book, but I marvel that it so strongly advocated for something NCLB-like and yet the author (scroll down to 6/9/03) does not at all sound like she supported the law--probably because it was signed by a president with an R after his name instead of a D.  After all, she was OMB director under President Clinton, who also appointed her to the Federal Reserve Board, and she's a registered Democrat.  Just goes to show how far the Democrats of today have slid from reality, given that she made perfect sense in 1971.

Remember These 90s Songs?

In no particular order...I was looking for a song on YouTube and was reminded of the first one, so I started surfing from there, looking for some good 90s songs that weren't completely played into the ground.

Put some others in the comments!

Choosing A Major

I haven't read this book but, based just on the title, I think my college-bound students should read it:

Worthless: The Young Person's Indispensable Guide to Choosing the Right Major

How many more marine biologists or international relations majors does the world need right now?  I've got to believe we have plenty.  To paraphrase that 90s song:

What the world needs now
Is another medieval Uzbeki literature major
Like I need a whole in my head.

Maybe If People Weren't So Easily Swayed, This Wouldn't Be A Problem

From Rasmussen:
Voters feel strongly that wealthy donors and special interests and the media are too strong a presence in politics, but they remain closely divided over which is the worst problem.

Seventy-six percent (76%) of Likely U.S. Voters believe the wealthiest individuals and companies have too much influence over elections, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Just four percent (4%) say wealthy individuals and companies have too little political influence, while 16% say their level of influence is about right. (To see survey question wording, click here.) 

Even more voters (80%) agree that wealthy special interest groups have too much power and influence over elections. Only three percent (3%) say they have too little influence, while 14% say the amount of influence wealthy special interests have is about right.

Two-out-of-three voters (66%) also think the news media have too much power and influence over elections. Only four percent (4%) say the media do not have enough political influence. Twenty-six percent (26%) believe the amount of influence the news media have in elections is about right.

Voters have shown similar levels of concern over the influence money and the media have over government decisions.

I Wouldn't Mind The Extra Money, But This Seems Like A Boondoggle Waiting To Happen

Is this nothing more than a political payoff, or does someone think this will actually change impressions?  What will states and districts have to do to get this money (a la Race To The Top), and, since the money isn't a tremendous amount in each state, how do we decide who gets it and who doesn't?
Could $1 billion make teaching the best job in the world? Well, the U.S. Department of Education is banking that it can at least help make a dent in the perception of teaching as underpaid and not prestigious, anyway: It's pitching a $1 billion program toward that end as part of its fiscal year 2017 budget request.

Under its proposal, districts would use the funds to improve teacher salaries, working conditions, and professional development. Overall, the initiative also aims to help improve the distribution of teacher talent, something the agency has struggled to get states to do.

"I think if we want to ensure that teaching, particularly in our highest-need schools is attractive, we've got to make sure the compensation reflects the complexity of the work. That's why this initiative includes the opportunity for districts to increase salaries for effective teachers in high-needs schools," Acting Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr., said in a press call with reporters Friday. "We have a lot of work to do as a country so that regardless of the ZIP code you're in, you have access to an excellent education, and teacher salaries are a part of that. And so too are working conditions," he said, noting the deplorable state of many Detroit school buildings.

The federal program, called RESPECT: The Best Job In the World, would give out competitive grants of $50 million to $250 million to states, which would then offer subgrants to school districts. With the cash, districts would aim to implement the following activities....

It's A Curse All Right


The Curse of the High IQ

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Money Keeps Adding Up Even Without A Trip

Looks like the weather in Reno, as well as that over the summit, is going to be on the yucky side later this week, and I'd rather not have the concern about having to put on chains hanging over me like the Sword of Damocles.

That hasn't stopped me from spending money, though.  Last week I paid for a waterbed mattress--I'm giving up the standard mattress after 11 years and am going back to what I've had since I was 13.  Getting my washing machine repaired yesterday was almost $300.  I could easily spend that much on the repairs the repair shop claims are needed on my car; interestingly enough, they didn't find the repair they said I needed when they did a courtesy inspection during my last oil change 6 months ago.

I'm meeting a former student, now a friend, for pizza on Thursday.  We're going to a place he hasn't been before, one I describe as Chuck E. Cheese for big kids!  It's a pizza buffet so I better wear my stretchy pants :)

I've spent a hundred or two on just little things, including a couple presents, but still--I should spend more time and less money!  After all, I have a cruise and a trip to Canada this summer and I don't want to be in the habit of buying things just because I can!

Update, 2/17/16:  Yesterday it was bright and beautiful out.  Today it looks kind of dreary.  I don't know if we'll get rain here in the valley, but I'll bet the Sierra will get some.  I hope it's a lot.  So no Reno trip.

Monday, February 15, 2016

No Work This Week

I know many people don't work today because it's Presidents' Day, but in my district we take the whole week off.  I don't feel guilty about that, either, considering that we start school in the 2nd freakin' week of August. 

Normally I'd call this Ski Week, but it'll get up to 70 degrees, and perhaps a couple degrees beyond that, today.  It's beautiful outside.  Yes, I'd prefer a torrential downpour (our reservoirs are a couple years behind in storage!) but if I can't have that, beautiful weather is to be preferred.

I have a very exciting week planned, yes.  Today I have a washing machine repairman coming over!  And tomorrow I'll get the oil changed on my car!  Wednesday I get to go to the district office and pick up some of my netbooks from Tech Services and give them a half-dozen more to reimage.  And, if I can find someone to go with, I may head up to Reno for a night or two just to get out of town.  It's been awhile since I was up there last.

I've got some white chicken chili cooking in the crock pot right now, and I'm researching cost savings for my cell phone bill (while staying with Verizon)--looks like I'll be able to get the same service for $10/month less.  I'll get plenty of homework done for my current master's class, not quite so much if I go to Reno but still plenty.  May go see Deadpool somewhere.

Yes, it's a very exciting week :-)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

And Just Like That, My World Begins To Crumble

I was out shopping today, spending small amounts of money frivolously, when I get a message from a friend--Justice Scalia has died.

And my world, which looked so safe when I woke up this morning, began to crumble.

Of course I'm talking about Friedrichs v. CTA, a case argued before the Supreme Court a month ago, a case expected by the talking heads on both sides to be decided 5-4 in my favor, and now one of those 5 is gone.  Friedrichs is probably the last time in my life I'll get a chance to be free of forced unionism as a teacher, and now that chance has suffered a body blow.

A year or so ago a friend (and reader of this blog) sent me a book called Scalia Dissents.  I read it cover to cover, often laughing at Scalia's wit and turns of phrase.  He loved the Constitution, he knew how to defend it, and he knew how to skewer those who tried to damage it.  The cause of conservatism lost a strong champion today.

The Math Teacher's Lament

Go here to see funny pictures of If We Talked About Other Subjects The Way We Talk About Math

Trashing Our Values And, By Extension, Our History

Ronald Reagan once said:
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
That quote came back to me as I read this:
A group of six rape accusers at the University of Tennessee is trying to force the school to ditch the foundations of American justice, suing the school for – gasp – providing basic fairness to accused students...

This is what the group of six rape accusers want to end – a procedure that puts complainant (accuser) and respondent (accused) on the same legal footing. Where accusations don’t equal guilt. Where there’s not a predetermined result to satisfy a federal witch hunt backed by financial threats.

The University of Tennessee has the chance to stand up for the legal rights of all its students, not just those who demand that they be “believed” because they “survived” an ambiguous sexual encounter – and that their alleged attacker be branded a rapist and ruined for life.
This is why courts, not schools, should handle these types of proceedings.

Friday, February 12, 2016

And The Oscar Goes To...

I've mentioned before that my school is implementing a Restorative Justice program.  In order to inform students about the program, a couple of students made a (funny) video.  I was asked to play a small role--a student in the video is wearing extremely short shorts, and I (mortified!) assigned that student a detention for the dress code violation.  They chose me for the role because I'm well-known for doing that in real life.

Anyway, the video was shown in English classes this week.  Throughout the day yesterday I had students come up to tell me how much they enjoyed my part in the movie.  At our staff meeting yesterday I had several teachers come up to tell me the same.

I understand the Oscar choice is down to DiCaprio, for getting attacked by a bear, and me.  I've totally got this one. 

(And no, I can't find the video on YouTube!)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Free Speech Must Be Alive and Well In This Country

It must be, or else the ACLU would address the problem, right?
Is the ACLU going soft on the First Amendment? That's the troubling question raised by University of Washington law professor Ronald Collins, who notes that the ACLU just began its annual fundraising campaign and released an accompanying "National ACLU Workplan," which, in the organization's own words, "lays out [the ACLU's] plans for the year ahead [and] always addresses the most critical civil liberties challenges facing our country."

Yet as Collins reports, "surprisingly, protecting free-speech freedoms is not listed as one of this year's 'critical civil liberties' issues. Neither of the documents contains any mention of the First Amendment."

The Ubiquity of the Cell Phone

When I got to my classroom this morning, I started through my regular procedure.  I reached into my bag to check my phone for messages one last time before I put it back into the bag and lock it in the closet for the rest of the day--and my phone wasn't in my bag.  I had forgotten it.

I felt that momentary pang of anxiety.  I'm not sure that it came from not having immediate contact with anyone and everyone; as I said, I keep my phone put away all through the school day anyway.  No, it came from not knowing exactly where the was.  I mean, I was 99% sure it was on my headboard, still connected to the charger, but that 1% gnawed at me.  But only momentarily.  I put the phone-less bag into the closet and carried on with my day as usual.

Yet, I did feel that pang of anxiety.  And I'm someone who spent the first 40+ years of his life without a cell phone.  I can understand a little more why my students, who have had a phone in their hands since they were toddlers, might have more anxiety than I do when trying to live without their phones for 60 minutes per class period.  I understand it, but I don't buckle to that understanding.  That anxiety might just as accurately be called an addiction and I see no reason to enable someone's addiction. 

Still, I got the slightest peek into that addiction today.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Little Laugh

It was a very uneventful day, and I'm getting behind in my master's class--and I have no inspiration for writing here tonight.  Please enjoy this guy's very poor choice of t-shirts instead!

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

It's My Job, Not My Calling

I don't know if I've had a "calling" since I got out of the army half my life ago.  I've done things I'm good at, but I never felt any mysterious "this is what I'm meant to do" feeling for them, and that includes being a teacher.  Turns out I'm not the only one:
Teachers are skilled professionals — not missionaries, writes Amanda Ripley in The Washingtonian. Talking about teaching as a low-status career for the selfless drives away the smart, ambitious people the profession needs.

Snacks On Student Birthdays

I've (jokingly) told students that on their birthdays, they should bring me a cupcake or donut or something similar in celebration.

Today a girl, let's call her Susan, brought in a pink box.  It contained about a half-dozen donuts, and I thought she was offering me one.  No, she gave me the whole thing for her birthday!  In fact, on top of the box she had written "Happy Susan's Birthday!" 

I ate the chocolate one, and then received her permission to share the remaining ones in the staff lounge.

Someone had given her funfetti cupcakes.  And balloons.  And that was just 1st period....

Monday, February 08, 2016


In my current master's class, History of Educational Thought, we're reading about different educators and education philosophers, and one of our most recent ones was Rousseau.

I don't like Rousseau.

He completely made crap up, wrote it down in his book Emile, and people fawn over him/it and proclaim what a brilliant thinker he was.  Maybe, but this is a guy who left his own kids at an orphanage and was a total failure the only time he ever tried being a personal tutor.  I'm not much interested in what he has to say about children, their development, or their education.

This post at Joanne's site reminded me of Rousseau:
The classroom is outdoors at The Alaska Forest School, reports Erin Kirkland in the Alaska Dispatch News.

Lia Keller asked preschoolers if they could “find the tunnel from last time” and they led the way to a downed cottonwood, where they could play “foxes and bears” in a pit under the root ball...

The forest school idea started in Europe, but has spread around the world. It seems like a perfect fit for Alaska, says Beka Land, whose daughters are five and three. “The natural consequences of exploring the outdoors and talking through choices is so valuable,” Land said. “As a family, we like the idea of an outdoors-centered program that lets kids pick their own path.”
I'm not saying that this Forest School idea is bad, I think that kids should spend more time outdoors--especially young children.  Rousseau carried it to an extreme, though.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Should Teachers Make Men Out Of Boys?

China tries some more social engineering--because, you know, that one-child policy has worked so well for them:
Lin Wei, 27, one of a handful of male sixth-grade teachers at a primary school here, has made a habit of telling stories about warlords who threw witches into rivers and soldiers who outsmarted Japanese troops. “Men have special duties,” he said. “They have to be brave, protect women and take responsibility for wrongdoing.”

Worried that a shortage of male teachers has produced a generation of timid, self-centered and effeminate boys, Chinese educators are working to reinforce traditional gender roles and values in the classroom.

In Zhengzhou, a city on the Yellow River, schools have asked boys to sign pledges to act like “real men.” In Shanghai, principals are trying boys-only classes with courses like martial arts, computer repair and physics. In Hangzhou, in eastern China, educators have started a summer camp called West Point Boys, complete with taekwondo classes and the motto, “We bring out the men in boys.”

Education officials across China are aggressively recruiting male teachers, as the Chinese news media warns of a need to “salvage masculinity in schools.” The call for more male-oriented education has prompted a broader debate about gender equality and social identity at a time when the country’s leaders are seeking to make the labor market more meritocratic.

It also reflects a general anxiety about boys in Chinese society. While boys outnumber girls as a result of the longstanding one-child policy and a cultural preference for sons, they consistently lag in academic performance. Some parents worry about their sons’ prospects in an uncertain economy, so they are putting their hopes in male role models who they believe impart lessons on assertiveness, courage and sacrifice.

The view that there is an overabundance of female teachers that has had a negative effect on boys has, perhaps predictably, led to a backlash. Parents have accused schools of propagating rigid concepts of masculinity and gender norms, and female educators have denounced efforts to attract more male teachers with lavish perks as sexist.
On the other hand, the Society of Women Engineers sent some pamphlets to our school and asked us to hand them out. I refused, as their organization is sexist and exclusionary.  I half-jokingly remarked that perhaps I wouldn't have as much antipathy towards such organizations if there were similar organizations that tried to recruit boys and men into nursing or elementary teaching.  Reading the article above, though, I realize that I would have a problem with such organizations.  Can only men teach boys?  If "feminization" is the problem, shouldn't women teachers be taught how to be better teachers for boys?

So many problems when we start imposing our own views on others.

The Good Kind of Evil

From the party that brought you "for it before I was against it", let's really talk about big money in politics:
Former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.) said Friday that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) should not boast about his freedom from super-PACs given his ties with organized labor.

“I don’t hear anybody asking Bernie Sanders for transcripts of some speech he made for a labor union,” he told host Andrea Mitchell on “MSNBC Live."

“For Bernie to say he doesn’t have a super-PAC…labor unions are super-PACs. Labor unions are super-PACs Democrats like so we don’t go after labor unions.”  (boldface mine--Darren)
Hypocrisy, thy name is the Democratic Party.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Abridging Free Speech While Claiming To Protect It

"Free speech zones" are so obviously unconstitutional that universities aren't planting their streamers on that particular totalitarian hill anymore.  No, now they're trying "bias response teams":
Universities are playing a dangerous constitutional game. They’re trying to deter speech they don’t like while avoiding creating policies or procedures that are plainly unconstitutional. As a result, they often do is create a “process-is-punishment” mechanism that subjects offending students to intrusive and humiliating investigations all the while claiming to any watching free speech advocates (or federal judges) that they’re not actually prohibiting protected speech, they’re just “investigating complaints.”

Friday, February 05, 2016

Sex, Laws, and Stupidity

I think some of our laws regarding sex crimes are draconian.  And sometimes their enforcement is just plain stupid.

Years ago, when my son was young, a neighbor suggested I check Megan's List.  I did, and found out a registered sex offender had moved into the neighborhood.  There was no indication that the person had anything to do with harming children, but all sex offenders are the same, right?  Someone who flashed someone is the same as a child rapist, that's the way the law is.

I noticed that, not far from me, there was a cluster of many sex offenders.  Turns out that there are requirements about where sex offenders--who, remember, have already done their time--can't live within a certain distance of a school.  So this one apartment complex has several sex offenders, because given its location (and cost relative to houses), it's one of the few places in the area where sex offenders can live after prison.  Doesn't matter if their offense had anything to do with kids or not.  They're all the same.

We don't label murderers when they get out.  Is there anyone--besides sex offenders--whom we do label and harass for the rest of their lives after they get out of prison?  I'm drawing a blank here.  It's clear to me we want them to suffer the rest of their lives, and this is how we do it.

This topic bothers me, not just because of what I see as the injustice of these particular laws, but also because of their application.  How many stories do we have to read of teenagers sexting each other and getting brought up on freakin' child pornography charges?  I can't believe that this is how our rather stringent laws were meant to be applied:
A Three Rivers, Michigan, teenager is both the victim and perpetrator of a sex crime. He might land on the sex offender registry, and face criminal charges, all because he took an inappropriate photo—of himself.

The boy is unnamed in local news reporters, which note that he is under 15 years of age. He allegedly took a nude photo of himself on a girl’s cell phone. That girl sent the picture to another girl, who sent it to another. Preliminary charges are pending for all three—the boy was charged with manufacturing child porn, and the girls with distributing it. A prosecutor is still weighing whether to pursue the charges...

Teens who create and share sexy photos aren’t child pornographers. They are teenagers. To pretend the law can suppress their natural curiosity about their own bodies, and each other’s, is to subscribe to vindictive madness and paranoia about human sexuality. These kids aren't hurting themselves—we're hurting them.
I work with teenagers every day.  I know of students who have sent pictures of themselves, or even of others, to other students.  It's not something wise, it's not something I condone, it's not something I recommend, but I cannot imagine for the life of me that it's something worthy of lifelong stigma and legal harassment.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Knowledge, Good.

I get so tired of the "just look up the knowledge someone else already learned" canard:
The Knowledge Matters campaign is lobbying for schools to teach a broad curriculum including history, science, geography, art and music — especially to “those least likely to gain such knowledge outside school.”

You’d think there’d be no need to ask schools to teach knowledge, but it’s being pushed aside by drill in reading skills and by the belief that kids don’t need to know anything because they can just look everything up.
Can I get an "amen!"?

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Have STEM, Will Travel

The two most intelligent people I know both went to state universities.  They both majored in engineering, too:
We’ve written before about how selective colleges function to perpetuate privilege, giving students access to exclusive resources, opportunities and networks that are unavailable to students who are just as bright but couldn’t impress an admissions committee at age 17—or who, for financial or personal reasons, didn’t want to go to a elite school. In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, the economists Erica Eide and Michael Himler, who have tallied earnings data for students across colleges and across different majors, offer an important qualification to his phenomenon: it only seems to apply to students who earn liberal arts degrees. Students with similar characteristics who major in STEM fields earn roughly the same wherever they go to college....
They've both done well for themselves.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

It's A (Post-)Christmas Miracle!

It doesn't matter what day of the week I give a test or a quiz on, there will be an inordinate number of students absent.    It's gotten out of hand.

Statistics classes, being all seniors, are especially bad at this.  So last week I put out the word:  the make-up quiz will be inordinately more difficult; so much so, I taunted, that I'll savor giving it.  I smiled a lot as I spoke.

Today we had our weekly "block schedule", having only odd-numbered periods.  Tomorrow we'll have even-numbered periods.  First period is especially bad, what with absences and tardies, but today not a single student was missing or late.  Third period was also 100% present.  Fifth period I teach a different class andt that class also had a quiz, but no one was absent--and I hadn't even threatened them with a harder make-up quiz!

My third stats class is tomorrow.  I'm curious to find out if everyone will be there to take the quiz.

It's clear everyone knows that I meant what I said.  Credibility pays dividends.

Update, 2/3/16:  The only two students that were absent today have been sick for several days.  Everyone else attended classes today.   Let me restate that:  in two days, I've had only two students miss class.

Monday, February 01, 2016

What Was The Point of the Civil Rights Movement? Not This, I'm Quite Sure

The whole purpose of the Civil Rights Era was to end segregation and different treatment based on race.  There is a direct line from Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, through Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, through the Little Rock Nine (commentary here), through the March on Washington, through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (which was signed by President Johnson when I was a few months old).  The Civil Rights Era can be summarized in a way in two quotes:
"There is no understandable factual basis for classification by race...."
-Thurgood Marshall, in his brief for the NAACP in Sipuel v. Oklahoma State Board of Regents, 332 U.S. 631 (1948)
(read more from Marshall here)

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his 1963 "I have a dream" speech
The goal, quite clearly, was legal equality for all Americans.  There could be no color bar any longer.  Somehow, though, in the intervening half-century since the end of the Civil Rights Era, the idea of civil rights has morphed--actually, it's more apt to say it's been twisted--from its rightful focus on individual rights to what we have today, which is a focus on "group" rights.  And unfortunately, this focus on group rights has brought us full circle; we again have a situation in which some people are "more equal" than others, but this time it's minority (in this case black) students instead of whites, and what many of them are asking for is neo-segregation:
The University of Connecticut is hoping that black males will graduate at a higher rate if they spend more time with one another, and is building a new residence hall to facilitate just that.

The ScHOLA²RS House—which stands for "Scholistic [sic] House Of Leaders who are African American Researchers and Scholars"—"is a scholastic initiative to groom, nurture, and train the next generation of leaders to address grand challenges in society through the promotion of academic success in undergraduate programs at the University of Connecticut and in competitive graduate programs," the website states...

"It is a space for African American men to, one, come together, and validate their experiences that they may have on campus," he (a faculty director) explained. "Number two, it's also a space where they can have conversation and also talk with individuals who come from the same background who share the same experience."

The specialized housing does not—quite—constitute a "segregated" residence, as it is currently optional, much like the "affinity housing" that other schools have put in place to serve as a "safe space" for minority students.

Isaac Bloodworth, a sixth-semester puppetry major, however, ascribed opposition to the plan as simply racist.

"The white portion of the University of Connecticut is probably not ready for it," he speculated. "You have people who are going to go against it because they are just racist and they see this as a form of segregation or that we’re getting better things than they are."
Who sounds more racist: a person who considers this a form of segregation, or Isaac? 

We've heard for years, starting with Bakke in 1978, that the rationale/justification for so-called affirmative action in higher education is "diversity"; where's the diversity when you separate people by race?

Can racially-segregated dorms be justified by Marshall's and King's ideals?

Are the post-Ferguson Black Lives Matter protest demands (a view from the left here, a view from the right here) congruous with Marshall's and King's ideals?

Is this really what we want in higher education?