Sunday, January 31, 2016

I Didn't Know AP Tests Were Scored Any Other Than 1 Thru 5

Apparently they are, and getting a 5 doesn't mean you "aced" it.  Only 12 people on the planet aced the AP Calculus test last year:
What's 12 divided by 302, 532?

It comes out to .00003967 or .003967 percent. That's the percentage of students in the entire world who took the test and earned a perfect score on the infamously difficult college-level Advanced Placement Calculus exam last year.

Cedrick Argueta, the son of a Salvadoran maintenance worker and a Filipina nurse, was in that tiny fraction of perfection, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the self-described quiet 17-year-old senior at Lincoln High — a school of about 1,200 students in the heavily Latino Lincoln Heights neighborhood in Los Angeles — called the news "crazy."

"Twelve people in the whole world to do this and I was one of them? It's amazing," he told the Times.
Though Argueta found out over the summer that he had achieved the highest score, a 5, on the three-hour and 15-minute test, he only found out about his perfect score last week when the College Board sent a letter to the school's principal.
Who knew!

And good for Cedrick for achieving excellence.

UpdateHere's a little more information.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Our school's physics teacher put out a call for lemons--he needed them to generate electrical current.  He got far more lemons than he needed.

He put several of the unused lemons in each of our staff lounges--being California, our school is spread out and we have 3 different lounges.  Anyway, the denizens of the lounge I frequent insisted that I take the lemons and make more limoncello.  My limoncello is reputed to be the best on the planet.  I last made some in late 2012, and I still have a little left in the freezer.  This latest request for a new batch means I'll have to start drinking up the original (yay!) so I can reuse the bottles.

Last time when I made it, I had 17 "naked" lemons (no zest) remaining.  Back to the internet I went for a lemonade recipe.  It was so sweet, though, that I noted that next time I'd use only half the sugar.

This time, though, I won't make lemonade.  Another teacher in our lounge said he'd make carbonated lemonade.  He has all the accouterments to do so.  So after I strip all these lemons, taking their outer yellow and leaving their whites, I'll return them to school and let him make the lemonade.

Lots of cooperation going on with these lemons!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bacon

Someone somewhere designated this week as some sort of Bacon Appreciation Week, so today in our staff lounge we had a sort of bacon-themed potluck.

We had spinach salad (with a goodly amount of bacon on it), a bacon-bacon-bacon pizza, little smokies wrapped in bacon, chocolate-covered bacon (don't knock it till you try it!), and a chocolate-bacon fudge.  I wasn't feeling so great last night and didn't have anything bacon-oriented to bring, so I did some bakin' and brought corn bread.

It was a good lunch!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Law Is An Ass

When laws are written and enforced in such a way that the victim is the criminal, the law doesn't merit being followed and the government that passed the law doesn't merit being obeyed:
The teenager told police that she was attacked in central S√łnderborg on Wednesday at around 10pm by a dark-skinned English-speaking man. She said the man knocked her to the ground and then unbuttoned her pants and attempted to undress her. 
 
The girl was able to save herself from further assault by using pepper spray on the attacker, but now she may be the one who ends up in legal trouble. 
 
“It is illegal to possess and use pepper spray, so she will likely be charged for that,” local police spokesman Knud Kirsten told TV Syd. 
 
The case has sparked a backlash among some Danes who point to increasing reports of sexual harassment in S√łnderborg and other Danish cities at the same time that police say they are stretched too thin to properly carry out their duties.

Yay, California

From Instapundit I get the link to this article, about how California shafted itself by adopting Common Core:
A California commission has just decided the technology costs for Common Core tests are an unfunded mandate, which will require state taxpayers to cough up approximately $4 billion more to local school districts, Californian and former U.S. Department of Education official Ze’ev Wurman tells The Federalist.

This adds to the extra $3.5 billion the legislature gave schools for Common Core in spring 2015 and a separate infusion of $1.7 billion Gov. Jerry Brown snagged for Common Core spread across fiscal years 2014 and 2015. That makes a total of approximately $9.2 billion above and beyond existing tax expenditures Californians will pay to have Common Core injected into their state.

This even though both vested and independent analyses found that California’s pre-Common Core curriculum mandates were of higher quality than the Common Core that replaced it. You read that right: Californians got their kids worse instruction, and are paying $9.2 billion extra for it.
This follows our $6 billion in stem cell research that has returned nothing to the state, our tens of billions of dollars on our bullet train that will never see the light of day, etc.   California's motto:  if it's wacky enough or liberal enough, we'll do it--if for no other reason than to show how wacky or liberal we are!

One of the biggest problems, though, is that unlike the stem cell research (which was merely fruit of the poisoned tree, not the actual poisoning) or the bullet train, the change to Common Core standards actually hurts kids, at least in math.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Downton Abbey Reference

I've enjoyed the show.  Yes, the storylines are so bad that I always say they must have been written by a 7th grade girl ("Uh oh, we're broke and we'll lose Downton--no wait!  One of us just inherited zillions from someone we're not even related to and now we're saved!") but the scenery, the speech, the costumes, I can't help but enjoy it.

It's clear I'm getting old.  My 3 favorite characters are Mr. Carson, Mrs. Hughes (now Mrs. Carson--yay!), and the Dowager Countess.  I respect the dowager's morality even in those few instances where I disagree with it; and come on, Maggie Smith seems to be truly enjoying herself playing that part!

I didn't expect to see Downton Abbey relate to our political issues of today, but when I saw this article I like the dowager even a little bit more:
For those who don't follow the show, one of the subplots of the current and final season, which takes place in 1925, involves a debate over whether to let the larger Yorkshire hospital absorb a smaller local hospital. Though other characters in the show are in favor of the move, arguing it would bring more modern equipment and treatments to the village, Violet is fighting the idea tooth and nail, warning it would deprive the locals of their autonomy and there would be less individualized care.

On Sunday's episode, Violet (played by the brilliant Maggie Smith) made the case that there was a broader importance to fighting the hospital takeover.

"For years I've watched governments take control of our lives, and their argument is always the same — fewer costs, greater efficiency — but the result is the same too," Violet said. "Less control by the people, more control by the state, until the individual's own wishes count for nothing. That is what I consider my duty to resist."
Hear hear. And it might not hurt to hear from the Gipper himself on the issue:

Maybe This Is Why Liberals Rant About Income Inequality So Much

It's all around them:
The folks at Bloomberg Rankings, drawing on U.S. Census data, have measured the level of inequality—the Gini coefficient—in each of the 435 U.S. congressional districts. It’s a fascinating list (and a map) that reveals all sorts of interesting things. Here’s one: 32 of the 35 districts in which inequality is greatest are represented by Democrats (Republicans represent two; the other is vacant).
And this picture from National Review might shed a little light on the problem, too:

Doctor, heal thyself.

Monday, January 25, 2016

As A Parent, You Cringe

I've mentioned before that my son is a military policeman.  He's been at his duty station for just over a year now and just today underwent some training he previously hadn't.

I'm sure that all of us in the army have gone through the "gas tent", a tent filled with CS gas that makes you gag, makes your eyes stream tears and your nose stream snot and your mouth stream spit, and feels like razors as it goes down your throat; you learn quickly that when you hear an alarm of "gas! gas! gas!" that you will want to put your "gas" mask on immediately.

My son went through that in basic training, but as a military policeman he gets to look forward to even more special stuff.  Eventually he'll have to get tazed.  Today he had to work through getting sprayed directly in the face with pepper spray.

He sent me a couple pictures.  He doesn't look happy!  Yeah, I can laugh a little, but that's my son in pain.  No one likes to see that.

He'll get around to sending me the video!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

It's Only Bad If Your Side Is On The Losing End

In this reporter's world, the Supreme Court could never get anything wrong.  Plessy v. Ferguson, Pace v. Alabama, and Bowers v. Hardwick would still be the law of the land.  I have no doubt at all that this particular author would throw a party if Citizens United v. FEC were overruled:

IN his vitriolic dissent last June from the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision, Justice Antonin Scalia accused the majority of having carried out a “judicial putsch.” Justice Scalia should know. He and his four conservative colleagues were then in the process of executing one themselves.

On June 30, four days after handing down the marriage decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, the court announced that it would hear a major challenge to the future of public-employee labor unions. That case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, was argued last week. As was widely reported, the outcome appears foreordained: the court will vote 5 to 4 to overturn a precedent that for 39 years has permitted public-employee unions to charge nonmembers a “fair-share” fee representing the portion of union dues that go to representing all employees in collective bargaining and grievance proceedings. As the exclusive bargaining agent, a union has a legal duty to represent everyone in the unit, whether members or not; the fee addresses the problem of “free riders” and the resentment engendered by those who accept the union’s help while letting their fellow workers foot the bill.
I always enjoy the "free rider" argument.  In effect, what its supporters are saying is that I can be thrown into a taxi, taken a bunch of places I don't want to go, and then should be compelled to pay the taxi driver because he or she took me to those places.  What a silly line of reasoning.

I just couldn't let that argument stand without challenge.  Now I can move on.

For the past several years it is more common for the Supreme Court to rule unanimously in a case than it is for it to rule 5-4.  So yes, there are some "ideological disagreements" that must be decided, but is the so-called conservative wing of the court any more ideological or diabolical than the so-called liberal wing?  Sometimes, previous courts just got things wrong and their rulings must be overturned.  Even Sandra Day O'Connor said in Grutter v. Bollinger that perhaps after 25 years, affirmative action will no longer be needed, implying the Court would no doubt have to rule it unconstitutional and overturn the very case about which she was writing.

If you want to read an entirely biased, one-sided argument--a "vitriolic dissent", as it were, from what the author thinks the Supreme Court will rule--then go read the entire linked article.  If you would like to read both sides of the issue then read the transcript of the case, as it was argued before the Court 13 days ago, in PDF form downloadable from the Supreme Court's official site.

As an aside, everything I've read indicates that most people believe the Court will rule in Friedrichs' favor.  I thought the Court would rule for Kelo in Kelo v. New London and I thought it would rule against the legality of Obamacare.  I'll not count my chickens before they hatch, but I do hope Ms. Greenhouse (author of the piece linked above) is correct in her prognostication.

I'm Thankful To Have Received The Broad, Liberal Arts Education I Did At West Point

While I might not have enjoyed philosophy class, or sociology, or classical literature as much as I enjoyed Physics Of Modern Weapons Systems or Fluid Dynamics, I always recognized the value of taking those "words" classes:
He presented early results from a research study (that eventually he hopes to turn into a book) about the long-term impact of having attended a liberal arts college or experienced qualities associated with liberal arts education. The results back up the claims that liberal arts advocates make for their institutions -- claims that Detweiler said he feared didn't always have data behind them.

The study's initial results suggest that one can prove that a liberal arts-style education can be associated with greater odds, compared to others with bachelor's degrees, on such qualities as being a leader, being seen as ethical, appreciating arts and culture and leading a fulfilling and happy life...

Detweiler acknowledged the current cultural "obsession" with salaries as a measure of the value of a college education. And he said it was true business and engineering majors earned more, on average, than those with liberal arts majors. But he also noted that the top factor associated with a six-figure salary was not college major but having taken a large share of classes outside one's major.

The Class Affects Observed Teacher Ability

Some teachers excel at teaching what we might call "lower end" students.  That doesn't mean that they don't also excel at teaching higher end students, it's just that they're good at both ends of the spectrum.  Almost any teacher can teach a high end class.

Even teachers who are good at teaching lower classes, though, may not look so good during a classroom observation.  It's reasonable to assume that the classroom environment in those lower end classes will not match the "ideal" classroom environment (which would be akin to an AP Calculus class environment) and as a result the teacher would not be evaluated as highly as his or her results would merit:
Observations of teachers—usually the most prominent component of teacher-evaluation systems—can carry significant sources of bias, potentially penalizing English/language arts teachers of lower-achieving students, concludes a recent research study...

The analysis provides more evidence that, despite the widespread concern about test-score-based ratings of teachers, observations of teachers are just as susceptible to error. It deepens earlier findings by looking at the topic at a more granular level, and by showing that the findings are consistent across several analytical samples...

The researchers found that ELA teachers of higher-achieving students were more likely to get higher scores on the "classroom environment" domain of the Framework for Teaching, which considers teachers' classroom management and their ability to create a respectful learning environment, among other goals. Overall, an English teacher with a class whose incoming achievement was a standard deviation higher would get his or her score pushed up by about a third of a standard deviation...

Now here's the interesting thing. The bias did not show up on all of the FFT domains. Teachers' ratings on things directly related to instructional technique—whether they ask students probing questions and use assessments for instruction—weren't related to students' prior achievement. And math teachers generally didn't seem to get the same boost from having better-performing students. The authors postulate that math instruction, by its very nature, tends to be more direct and to use fewer groups, conversations, and other techniques that rise and fall on student interactions.
Read the whole thing for details and policy suggestions.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Blogiversary

11 years ago today I started RotLC with this post.  What an inauspicious beginning to something I never dreamed would last this long, never dreamed would encompass over 10,000 posts, never dreamed would create a community of so many people (several of whom I've met in person now), never dreamed would bring me such joy.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Isn't It Ironic (Doncha Think?)

Today I needed to email a PDF file to a student of mine.  Our school district has district-created email addresses for every single student; I logged onto our student information system and district email system, clicked on the student's name, clicked on his email address, attached the PDF, and hit send.

The email was returned as "undeliverable".  If that doesn't tell you about the kinds of difficulties I encounter regarding our "technology services"....

Thursday, January 21, 2016

What A Long Day

After school today we had a 3-hour long meeting, the first of several as we prepare for next year's accreditation visit.

I'm so exhausted right now.

I know, First World Problems :-)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"Justice" For This Instructor Would Be Tar and Feathers

Can anyone justify this?  Anyone?
A teacher at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro requires students in her class to write an 8-page commitment to social justice — pupils who take her class because it’s a required course to earn a K-12 teaching credential.

An assignment in instructor Revital Zilonka’s “Institution of Education” class tells future North Carolina teachers that “by the end of the semester, you are required to write your own personal/professional commitment to social justice,” the syllabus states.

The class mandates a list of feminist and Marxist readings, and students’ “commitment” is expected to be up to eight pages long and delve into how they plan to advance social justice “given the new understanding you have by now about society and education,” the syllabus adds.
I've said it 8 zillion times:  lefties don't really believe in diversity, especially diversity of opinions.  And they're all about compulsion.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Chickens Coming Home To Roost

Now it's lefties who are fearing the very monster they created.  Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people:
I was a liberal at 20 and I’m a liberal now, at 47. I have the same ideological trappings as I always have done. I’m laissez-faire socially and fiscally conservative. I’m happy with gay marriage and equality and would like to see drugs legalised, but I also want markets that are broadly free, tax rates that encourage business and so on.

The reason for for this is that ideology has become unbundled. Back in the '70s, if you were really pro-equality, you had little choice but to align yourself with the economic left. Now you can choose your views from a kind of buffet – and it’s perfectly normal to like free trade alongside a load of stuff that would once have belonged on a hippyish fringe.

So why am I bringing all this up? Because the last few years have seen the dawn of a new kind of political correctness which I think of as “PC 2.0”. This is the movement that seeks to de-platform Germaine Greer and wants every trace of Cecil Rhodes removed from Oxford. It’s the kind of thinking that has made gender so confusing that I don’t even know what the right view is any more, although I’m pretty sure that my view will be the wrong one, whatever it is.

Suddenly, those of us who had never worried about being seen as politically unsound are being cast as ageing, right-wing bigots. It’s weird finding yourself on the “reactionary” side of the argument with one of the world’s most famous feminists.

Why Do Lefties Hate Men So Much, Especially Men In College?

Are there any legitimate statistics out there--I don't know, say from the FBI or something--showing that college males are even slightly more prone to commit rape or sexual assault than are men in their age cohort who are not in college?  I wonder why only college students are held to the "yes means yes" standard (he said, she said, anyone?), why only college students are accused in non-legal kangaroo courts without due process protections, why only college students will now have accusations (not legal convictions) held against them when they try to attend other colleges:
One would like to believe that any college student found responsible for sexual assault was actually responsible for the crime. But far too often on college campuses, students are being branded as rapists because of campus kangaroo courts that ignore due process and, under pressure from the government, find students responsible regardless of the evidence.

Now, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, D-Calif., says she plans to introduce legislation that would ensure colleges and universities are made aware when a transferring student has been found responsible for sexual assault or sexual harassment.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education points out that this would be an acceptable approach if the findings of campus hearings weren't flawed. But as Anita Levy, senior program officer for the American Association of University Professors, told Inside Higher Ed, passing on such information is concerning "when the original proceedings may have been severely lacking in procedural protections, and thus the findings questionable — even if that means some genuine serial harassers may slip through the nets."
Of course the person pushing this is a liberal from California. She probably won't be happy until there are no men left in our universities.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Anderson Doesn't Share "California Values", Does Share "Jefferson Values"

These two links tell you a little about the difference between urban California and rural California.  First:
Donald Trump told an audience in Vermont on Jan. 7 that anyone without a gun in a gun-free zone was nothing but “bait” for “sickos.”

Trump won’t have to worry about students or their teachers being "bait" in more than three dozen school districts in America. Guns are not only allowed in class in those school systems -- Trump should be happy to see teachers are being encouraged to come to school with a pistol in their pockets.

These teachers are ready to take down the sickos.

Anderson Union High School District officials in California understand the intent of Senate Bill 707 that Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed into law in December. It is intended to keep concealed weapons out of high school and college campuses.

However, by ignoring the intent, and following the letter of the law, these teachers are not only being allowed to carry guns in their classrooms, they are also being encouraged to pack heat...

Students in Anderson Union High School District in California are not only OK with their teachers carrying guns to class, they told KRCR-TV they felt safer knowing the adults were armed.

Anderson Police Chief Mike Johnson doesn’t get a vote on the school board, so he didn’t share in the decision to arm teachers. But he thinks it is a good idea.
Second:
In Siskiyou County, Calif., the tax base is so small and land area so vast the county’s 44,000 residents have to rely on themselves in an emergency. The county can only afford a slim law-enforcement presence, so if there’s a problem the response time may be "basically never," explains Mark Baird, a rancher and retired deputy sheriff who met with me in a Sacramento coffee shop last Wednesday.

Yet, he pointed out, Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) just announced his support for more expansive gun-control measures. That disconnect between rural residents, who rely on their guns for self protection, and the more urban-oriented priorities at the Capitol, is an example of why he drove to the Capitol this week.

Baird is a leader of the ongoing effort to carve out rural northern California counties (and in past proposals, some southern Oregon counties, also) into the 51st state of Jefferson. The idea got a burst of attention in 2014 when Silicon Valley entrepreneur Tim Draper tried (and failed) to place on the ballot a measure that would break California into six states, one of which would have been called Jefferson.


But while the attention faded away, the Jefferson movement—the continuation of an effort that got its start in the World War II era—has plugged along. Baird was here to present "declarations" from 15 of California’s 58 counties calling for withdrawal from California. The group held a rally on the west steps of the Capitol...

At the Capitol rally, attended by several hundred people, I saw this sign: "Rural areas need proper representation." As one speaker noted, "This is not secession." He then invoked the Federalist papers No. 51, an essay about the proper way to construct a legislature. Baird points to a 1964 U.S. Supreme Court case that forced legislatures to base representation solely on population (rather than having Senate seats divvied up by county). In fact, their next step is a federal lawsuit based on these representation issues.

Those counties that would be part of the new state tend to have some of the lowest populations in California. Colusa has around 21,000 people. Sierra has 3,000 and Trinity has nearly 14,000 people. Those are rounding errors in most Southern California cities. Obviously, it’s hard to get much attention to their concerns in a Legislature dominated by representatives from counties with millions of people.

These representation concerns seem authentic. I was driving through Yuba County over the weekend and heard radio ads promoting Jefferson. I’ve seen the Double-X flag (standing for residents having been double-crossed by politicians in Sacramento and Salem) flying all across the north state.
Are you surprised to learn that Anderson is in the would-be state of Jefferson?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Back in the late 90s, a time when computers in schools weren't everywhere, I was in my teacher credentialing program.  One of my friends in the program was able to get a donation of about 2 dozen computers for her elementary school classroom; she loaded them up with Oregon Trail, some other educational games, and other goodies.  These were stand-alone computers, not connected to each other or to the internet.  I'm not even sure if they had internet capability or not.

One day she called me in a panic--do I need any computers?  If not, could I at least take some?  See, her principal didn't think it was fair that her class had computers and no other classes did, so the principal ordered the computers removed.  That afternoon.

Fast forward to today.  I have a dozen and a half netbook computers for use in my stats classes.  They were purchased by the school and our district tech services folks worked their magic on them.  We have wireless nodes all over our school, and these computers are, of course, internet-capable.  They're dang difficult to use, though, because, in an effort to make sure a student somewhere doesn't access pictures of boobies or something, our tech services has made the process of logging in and using the computers a herculean task.  If we do it exactly by the book, network speeds slow to a crawl.  Even when we don't do it exactly by the book, I still encounter problems that I have to work around.  (Note:  kids may know how to use phone apps, but logging into our school computer network and accessing a web site when given a URL that omits www for convenience sake?  No way.  Most of them aren't as savvy as adults think they are.  The hurdles our tech services people put in our path are to try to stop the very few who are tech savvy.  But I digress.)

It would be great if things could work smoothly--you know, like my wireless network at home does, no matter what kind of equipment I connect to it with.  It would be great if school administrators weren't such ninnies about computers:
All teacher Kim Kutzner wanted to do was help her students dig into their school work.

In her zeal to reach her students and make their writing assignments easier, the Chowchilla [California] Union High School English teacher pooled her resources and used her husband’s savvy to get her students the equipment she believed would help them excel.

Kutzner says her students’ test scores are up after she and her husband bought the equivalent of nearly $80,000 worth of laptop computers for her students to use...

Kutzner told The Modesto Bee that at first the English Department Chair was given major ‘atta girls’ five years ago for buying the computers at auctions, having her husband fix them up and network them into a classroom computer lab.

Now, however, the district is, as the principal of her school told Independent Journal, “investigating” and “assessing” the use of the computers. In fact, the school may ban their use.

It’s unclear why the computers are now becoming an issue.

The laptops aren’t connected to the internet and students are currently being allowed to use them.

The Chowchilla Union School District Superintendent says he’s now concerned with the privacy of students.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Banning "Please"

Among other things, teachers should model appropriate behavior for their students.  They should show students, by their example, how to be a good person in our society.  Failure to model those behaviors, especially in front of "bratty" kids, seems more than a little counterproductive.  Banning that modeling is just plain stupid:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WTVD) — For parents, please is often referred to as the magic word, but now one Charlotte school is banning teachers from using it.

Officials at Druid Hills Academy say that the goal is to make so-called "bratty kids" behave.

It's called "No-Nonsense Nurturing," where the teachers give kids concise, clear instructions in a format called M.V.P. – movement, voice and participation.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Floats Like A Butterfly, Stings Like A Bee

For the first time since the late 1990s, I had to physically intervene in a school fight today. In the interim I've stood between two students--you could tell they didn't *really* want to fight--but today the swinging was going on when I arrived on the scene.

People said I got hit. I didn't. Our campus monitor watched many videos on social media and she said one kid (he was huge, btw) threw a punch at me and I dodged it, but I honestly have no memory of that. I was just trying to restrain him at times, and hold him back at other times.

Did I mention this kid was big? I was thinking the whole time, "Darren, if this kid hits you, you have to take him out. You can't let a kid get away with hitting you, you'd lose too much credibility." I was running over my West Point unarmed combat training in my head the whole time I was involved. I'm thankful I didn't have to use it. Could you imagine, having to physically harm a kid in order to protect myself or protect the kid he was trying to fight?

I wouldn't worry much about a lawsuit. California Ed Code gives me very wide latitude to do what I think is *reasonable* to protect myself *or* others. Also, I have a very large liability insurance policy in my own name (*not* the crap the offered by the CTA to its members). No, I wasn't concerned about legal repercussions if I had to hit back, I was only concerned with taking the kid down quickly without doing too much damage. I'm glad it didn't come to that.

I was breathing very rapidly 10 min after the event. It couldn't have winded me that much, could it? No, that was the adrenaline still coursing through my system. I was still fired up, I was still on a hair trigger, I was still in "aggression mode". It's definitely a rush.

I have no interest in watching the videos. I'm afraid I might discover that I was in more danger than I considered at the time!

Another Adult In Charge

This one is at Oxford.  I wish we had more like her here in the US:
Oxford University installed its first female vice-chancellor this week, Louise Richardson, who boldly stressed the importance of free speech and critical thinking at university amid roiling student protests.

Addressing students for the first time in her new role, Richardson urged them to be open-minded and tolerant; and to engage in debate rather than censorship, alluding to countless calls from students at Oxford and other universities across the U.K. to ban potentially offensive speakers and rename or remove historical monuments...

Richardson’s installment comes as students at Oxford’s Oriel College campaign to dismantle a statue of Cecil Rhodes, the British colonialist who endowed the Rhodes Scholarship...

Richardson stood by the university’s chancellor, Lord Patten of Barnes, as he referenced the statue debate, reminding students that history cannot be rewritten “according to our contemporary views and prejudices.” He, too, was forthright in his criticism of speech codes and calls for “no-platforming” controversial speakers...

These campaigners seem too blinded by identity politics to recognize that their progressive ideology is often profoundly intolerant.

Unlike the present tone of the Oxford academic leadership, university leaders in the U.S. have frequently cowed to student demands and demonstrations.
America was founded by men who took the ideals of what it meant to be an Englishman, what the proper relationship between citizen and government was, and made it reality.  Over the course of almost two and a half centuries since, Britain lost her way.  And now that too many of us in the United States are losing our way, we see the British applying what we taught them so well. 

The pendulum swings ever more.

Choices Have Consequences

The so-called wage gap is brought up so often by our friends on the left, and has been debunked so often, that you might wonder if, by bringing it up, they're being intentionally dishonest:
I've written extensively on how the gender wage gap would be more accurately referred to as the "gender earnings gap," because the gap is due mostly to choices women make and not discrimination.

But now you don't have to take my word for it, you can listen to Claudia Goldin, an economics professor at Harvard University. Goldin spoke to Stephen Dubner, the journalist behind the popular podcast "Freakanomics," in a segment about what really causes the gap.

As one can imagine, Goldin comes to the same conclusion that I and many others have: That the gap is due mostly to choices men and women make in their careers and not discrimination.

"Does that mean that women are receiving lower pay for equal work?" Goldin asked after listening to clips of President Obama and comedienne Sarah Silverman claim that women earn 77 cents to the dollar that men earn. "That is possibly the case in certain places, but by and large it's not that, it's something else."

That "something else," is choice — in the careers that women take, the hours they work and the time off they take. Dubner asked her about evidence that discrimination plays a role in the gap, to which Goldin responded that such a "smoking gun" no longer exists...

Goldin argued that once you account for a number of factors, including taking time off from work and different careers, then there isn't "tons of evidence that it's true discrimination."

Goldin also suggested that the old claim that men are just better at bargaining doesn't contribute much to the gap. She said studies have shown men and women show up to a job straight out of college (meaning they have the same education level) and earn the same amount...

And for all the complaints that it's "society" that forces women to take time off, that same "society" stigmatizes men who do and force men to earn more once a child is born. "Stay-at-home-dads" often conjure up images of unsuccessful beta males. Maybe if there weren't such a stigma surrounding fathers who want to take time off of work to care for their children while mothers pursue their career, the gap wouldn't exist or would even be reversed.
Anyone who makes the "77 cents on a dollar" claim is either a liar, an idiot, or both.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Are There Limits To What Can Be Put Into An IEP?

In my day I've seen all sorts of crazy and academically-inappropriate things put into an IEP (individualized education plan, a legally-binding document created for special ed students).  I wonder, is there a limit to what teachers and administrators can put into an IEP--and, hence, bind future teachers/administrators?

I ask because I've seen a limit I never thought I'd see.  I won't say what state, district, or school it came from--that to protect me from charges of "lack of professionalism" for revealing someone's dirty laundry.

But today I saw an IEP that required that a student receive a passing grade.  It was very clear in stating that if the student was unable to achieve standards in a class, that student was to receive a "modified grade".  And since it's an IEP, teachers are required by law to abide by it.

Or so they say.  Since teachers and administrators write IEP's, what's to stop them from saying "teacher must give the student a big hug when he/she enters the classroom each day"?  Or "teacher is to give the kid a dollar each day the student comes to class"?  Clearly (or is it so clear?!) those wouldn't be acceptable, so can requiring a "modified grade" be required?  I understand modified curriculum (which is usually done in special ed classrooms) and I've always implemented required accommodations for students who needed them, but requiring a "modified grade" (which, have no doubt, was being interpreted by everyone above the teacher as a "passing grade")--how can that be right?  How can that be just?  How can that be honest?

When the Common Core Chickens Come Home To Roost

Car built with Common Core engineering.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What Will Help Students Learn?

Here is a  press release I received today from the National Council on Teacher Quality:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE     
January 13, 2016                         
            
Contact:
Dan Glaser        
202-393-0020 x 117            
 
Textbooks Fail to Deliver On What Every Teacher Needs to Know
 
Strategies proven to help students learn barely mentioned
 
Washington DC — Every year teacher candidates in the United States spend an estimated $40 million to purchase textbooks purporting to teach how children learn—yet almost none of them cover the core strategies they will need as teachers to increase student learning and retention.  
 
That finding is among the most important in a new study released today by nonpartisan, nonprofit National Council on Teacher Quality (www.nctq.org). The report, Learning About Learning, looked at a representative sample of textbooks used in programs which are training elementary and secondary teachers. Not one of the textbooks selected by programs for assignment in educational psychology or methods coursework—where teacher candidates typically learn about learning—provided even minimal coverage of the small set of research-based instructional strategies most likely to be effective in any kind of classroom, no matter the age or subject. These strategies were identified by the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, in a guide released in 2007.  
 
At best, the textbooks reference a fraction of what would benefit teachers, speaking to one or two of the core strategies.
 
“Teacher candidates are being sold a bill of goods, being asked to spend millions of dollars on textbooks which fail to deliver,” said Kate Walsh, president of NCTQ. “Depriving teachers of this essential professional knowledge is a tremendous disservice. The notion that novice teachers will eventually just ‘catch on’, learning as they teach, may have been a necessity in 1950; it’s not the case now, courtesy of a half century of great research.”
 
In addition to analyzing the textbooks, NCTQ looked for evidence from a sample of teacher preparation programs that core instructional strategies are taught regardless.  As indicated by lecture topics and student assignments, no evidence could be found that the programs are somehow working around the deficiencies of textbooks.
  
The IES identified six core instructional strategies supported by conclusive research, including: 1) distributing student practice or review of new material over weeks and even months; 2) pairing graphics or other types of visual information with oral instruction; 3) testing students on new material to facilitate recall; 4) accompanying abstract ideas with concrete examples; 5) alternating problems that the teacher solves with problems that students must independently solve;  and lastly, 6) posing probing questions to students to deepen conceptual understanding of new material.
 
Only this last strategy, the need for teachers to ask probing questions, was present to any significant degree either in textbook coverage or in coursework. Even this was covered by fewer than half of the textbooks studied.
 
Publishers of the 48 textbooks in the sample were each invited to respond to the findings in the study or to ask authors to do so. Only one author and one publisher chose to respond.
 
Many of the topics that are covered in the textbooks may be  of value to future teachers, just not to the exclusion of the instructional strategies. Common topics include the benefits of cooperative learning, the pros and cons of homework; when to best use direct instruction; the importance of keeping students engaged and mechanisms teachers can use to elicit what students may already know about a subject.   
 
The full report can be accessed here.
 
About the National Council on Teacher Quality
The National Council on Teacher Quality is a nonpartisan research and policy group committed to modernizing the teaching profession based on the belief that all children deserve effective teachers. We recognize that it is not teachers who bear responsibility for their profession's many challenges, but the institutions with the greatest authority and influence over teachers. To that end we work to achieve fundamental changes in the policy and practices of teacher preparation programs, school districts, state governments, and teachers unions. Our Board of Directors and Advisory Board come from a broad range of backgrounds and perspectives, and they all believe that policy changes are overdue in the recruitment and retention of teachers. More information about NCTQ can be found on our website, www.nctq.org.

###
Copyright © 2016 National Council on Teacher Quality, All rights reserved. 
When I first became a teacher in 1997, my former high school principal and counselor, both of them former math teachers, took me to breakfast one morning.  There they shared some of their wisdom with me, and told me some things I needed to do in order to be a good teacher--which means that they shared with me things I needed to do in order to help students learn more, which is a good definition of being a good teacher. 

I was reminded of that breakfast discussion as I read IES's 6 "core instructional strategies supported by conclusive research", as there's a lot of overlap between the strategies in that list and the strategies my principal and counselor shared with me.  For example, one strategy that I implemented immediately, and carry on with to this day, is "you have to give a quiz every week."  The reasoning was that students don't often have enough metacognition to know what they know and don't know, so they need to be quizzed weekly so they know where they stand.  Also, they learn better with the periodic reviews provided by quizzes. 

So here I am, in my 19th year teaching, and I still give a quiz or a test every week.  As for the list above, I do #1-4 regularly, I could do a better job on #5, and I often get disappointed when no one (or perhaps only one person) can answer a question I might proffer when using strategy #6.  I have 12 1/2 years to go before retirement, perhaps I'll have this teaching thing mastered by then :-)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What Have I Been Posting Over At Joanne's Site

On Saturday I posted about the Forbes link showing our service academies as among the best "public universities" in the country.

On Sunday I posted an article about financial problems in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Yesterday I posted about a scripted style of teaching that reduces the opportunity for students to be off-task.

Today I cross-posted my own story about watching a student walk directly into a wall.

Not Making This Up, This Really Happened At School Today

During my prep period today I was walking from the office to my classroom after having copied some papers.  Coming towards me was a student busily texting on his phone.

There's a drink machine near the end of the building, as just as he passed the machine he turned right--and walked straight into the wall, the edge of the building.  I kid you not, he walked directly into the wall.  The corner he meant to turn was perhaps 4 feet beyond him.

He wasn't supposed to be on his phone anyway during class time, but rather than call him out for that I just said to him, "There's a wall there."

He looked at me and said, "I was on my phone."

I replied, "I know."  And continued on to my class.

The Practical Problems of Innumeracy

If you don't think this is a problem, then you are part of the problem:
Sanders has built his popularity almost exclusively on promises to spend more money not just on the poor but not on everybody, without even a hint that he understands why that would only exacerbate the "wealth inequality" he rails so often against.

Sanders hasn't been specific about where the money would come from, mentioning only one transaction tax on Wall Street. Such a tax, by itself, wouldn't come close to funding Sanders' promises—his plans require massive tax hikes not just on the rich but on the middle class, meaning his efforts at offering everyone an education could not only increase inequality (since richer people are, in general, more likely to take advantage of entitlements like a "free education") but also actually redistribute wealth upward.



Sanders' success despite this is due to America's mathematical illiteracy and today on social media, among all the tributes and pictures and videos of David Bowie, one meme went so viral as to merit a response from Snopes.com just an hour ago.

Here's the meme:
When people believe this and don't even catch the simplest of math errors, it's no wonder our national debt isn't creating howls or protests with pitchforks.

If you can't do that in your head, or don't have a calculator nearby, the per capita receipt would be $4.33--enough, as the counter-meme goes, to buy everyone in the US a cheap calculator.   It's no wonder that socialism always devolves to running out of other people's money, if this is any indication....

Monday, January 11, 2016

More Star Trek Becomes True

The universal translator:
A portable device has a button and a speaker. One person speaks into Ili while holding down the button; after the user stops speaking, the speaker relays the message in the chosen language. (Right now, Ili only supports English, Chinese and Japanese, but its parent company, Logbar, has promised more will be available in the future.) Version two will have French, Thai, and Korean.

Ili's novel feature — and the perk that distinguishes it from translation services like Google — is its capacity to work without a wireless connection.

I've Got Your "Rape Culture" Right Here

Lefties always want to talk about so-called rape culture but their arguments don't make sense.  Why would anyone go to college if they thought there was a 1-in-5 chance of being raped while there?  Why would anyone believe a figure that indicates that you're more likely to be raped at an American university than in Mogadishu--or now, Europe?
AND, SUDDENLY, LEFTIES ARE WORRIED ABOUT RAPE “HYSTERIA:” Ashe Schow: Europe Is Enabling a Rape Culture. Well, technically, importing one. “In the left’s pyramid of grievances, Islamophobia now outranks the war on women.”
Related:


If the picture doesn't come through for you, it's a picture of a tweet: If the Cologne attackers had belonged to a fraternity, their coordinated sexual assaults would be the biggest story on earth right now.

No-nonsense = Professional?

Is this method of teaching "efficient"?  If you wouldn't want to teach this way, or wouldn't want your child in such a class, why not?
Any classroom can get out of control from time to time. But one unique teaching method empowers teachers to stop behavior problems before they begin.

You can see "No-Nonsense Nurturing," as it's called, first-hand at Druid Hills Academy Charlotte, North Carolina.

"Your pencil is in your hand. Your voice is on zero. If you got the problem correct, you're following along and checking off the answer. If you got the problem incorrect, you are erasing it and correcting it on your paper."

Math teacher Jonnecia Alford has it down pat. She then describes to her sixth graders what their peers are doing.

"Vonetia's looking at me. Denario put her pencil down, good indicator. Monica put hers down and she's looking at me."

In No-Nonsense Nurturing, directions are often scripted in advance and praise is kept to a minimum. The method is, in part, the brainchild of former school principal Kristyn Klei Borrero. She's now CEO of the Center for Transformative Teacher Training, an education consulting company based in San Francisco.

Klei Borrero says the foundation of the program isn't new. It just puts into practice what she's observed from high-performing teachers. That is, keeping expectations high by only praising outstanding effort.

"It notices students who are doing the right thing. It creates this positive momentum, but also gives the students who might have missed the directions another way of hearing it without being nagging, and also seeing it in action," says Klei Borrero.

It shares some attributes with the way I was taught classroom management.

(cross-posted at Joanne's site as well)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Truth or Fiction?

There are very few examples of the "noble savage" out there.  I'm guessing most people in history have been pretty much like us--not in culture, perhaps, but certainly in personality and actions:
Hollywood images and romantic environmentalism would have us see American Indians as so in harmony with nature they left no mark on it. A Sierra Club book about forestry claims, "For many thousands of years, most of the indigenous nations on this continent practiced a philosophy of protection first and use second of the forest." According to former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, "The Indians were, in truth, the pioneer ecologists of this country." Calling for an environmental ethic patterned after that of Native Americans, Sen. John H. Chafee (R-R.I.) quoted words allegedly spoken by 19th-century Indian Chief Seattle: "Man did not weave the web of life. He is merely a strand of it."

This image of a Native American environmental ethic, however appealing, is more myth than reality. The actual history of Native American resource use does not always mesh with the spiritual environmental ethos attributed to them. By focusing on myth instead of reality, environmentalists patronize American Indians and neglect the lessons of their rich institutional heritage encouraging resource conservation.

The impression that American Indians were guided by a unique environmental ethic often can be traced to the speech widely attributed to Chief Seattle in 1854. But Chief Seattle never said those oft-quoted words.

This Doesn't Surprise Me

Where education is concerned you can almost never trust the results of "the research", especially when the research itself is only anecdotal.  This, however, wouldn't surprise me if it turns out to be accurate:
Four times a day, the doors of Eagle Mountain Elementary in Fort Worth, Texas, fling open to let bouncy, bubbly, excited kindergarteners and first-graders pounce onto the playground.

The youngest kids at this school now enjoy two 15-minute breaks in the morning and two in the afternoon for a total of one hour of recess a day. That's three times longer and three more breaks than they used to get...

Some five months into the experiment, (Teacher) McBride's fears have been alleviated. Her students are less fidgety and more focused, she said. They listen more attentively, follow directions and try to solve problems on their own instead of coming to the teacher to fix everything. There are fewer discipline issues. 

Saturday, January 09, 2016

The Worst Schools, and the Best

California has no bad schools, and if we did, we wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings by pointing out that we do:
Facing a lawsuit threat, the state Department of Education has changed its position on posting a list of low-performing schools whose students could be transferred to schools with higher academic test scores.

A state “open enrollment law,” enacted in 2010, requires the department to list 1,000 “low-achieving schools” by Jan. 1 of each year and allows parents of children in those schools to move them to other schools.

Late last year, the department, which is directed by state schools Sept. Tom Torlakson, posted a notice on its website that it would not release a list of the schools because the “academic performance index” on which the list was based had been suspended.

That action, which was not announced publicly, drew fire from state Sen. Bob Huff and school improvement groups, which threatened to sue.

Last week, just days before Jan. 1 deadline, Torlakson’s department altered its notice and posted the previous 1,000-school list, based on 2013 tests, that parents could use to exercise their open enrollment option. Here is a link to a spreadsheet of the list.
At the other end of the academic spectrum, California's universities won't allow their students to smoke or even to vape anymore:
Colleges students across California would need to stub out their cigarettes and ditch their vape pens under a bill before the Legislature.

Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, wants to make California’s public college campuses smoke-free zones. His Assembly Bill 1594 would ban both traditional cigarettes and vaping on the grounds of California State University and community college schools.

While the University of California has had a blanket prohibition on both smoking and vaping since 2014, individual community colleges and CSU schools set their own smoking policies. Six of the 23 CSU schools currently ban smoking, and a system-wide proposal is in the works.
I'm can't stand smoking, but I'm even less a fan of a nanny state telling adults what they can and cannot do.  Prohibition didn't work in the 1920s, but we keep on trying it. 

And Over at Joanne's...

Yesterday I posted about The Hardest Students To Teach, those with severe emotional or other problems.  In California we just throw money at the problem and ship them out of state.  Today I posted about states which give college entrance exams (SAT/ACT) to every high school junior, as if we expect everyone to go to college.  I also might have mentioned that Forbes ranked West Point as the #1 "public university" in the country :-)

Numero Uno, Baby

Best "public university" in the country" (and #11 overall):  The US Military Academy
US Naval Academy, #2/27
US Air Force Academy, #5/38
US Coast Guard Academy, #17/101

Just for reference, UC Berkeley is #3/37, and (in a surprise to me) UC Davis is #22/121.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

My Post On Joanne's Blog Today

Two articles in 1:  Massachusetts schools have students try breathing exercises and meditation activities while European schools are having difficulties integrating "newcomers" from the Middle East.

North Korea's Nuke

The Democrats don't want to hear this, and they don't think it has any parallels to President Obama's Iran deal:
North Korea’s boast that it just detonated its first hydrogen bomb met instant doubts from the White House and arms experts. If they’re right, Pyongyang “only” has plain-old atomic bombs. What a . . . relief?

But, as one Chinese expert told The Wall Street Journal, the H-bomb claim still shows that tyrant Kim Jong-un is “marching in that direction.”

For all this, thank Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. North Korea couldn’t have done it without their gullibility.

Back in 1994, President Clinton prepared to confront North Korea over CIA reports it had built nuclear warheads and its subsequent threats to engulf Japan and South Korea in “a sea of fire.”

Enter self-appointed peacemaker Carter: The ex-prez scurried off to Pyongyang and negotiated a sellout deal that gave North Korea two new reactors and $5 billion in aid in return for a promise to quit seeking nukes.

Clinton embraced this appeasement as achieving “an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula” — with compliance verified by international inspectors. Carter wound up winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his dubious efforts.

But in 2002, the North Koreans ’fessed up: They’d begun violating the accord on Day One. Four years later, Pyongyang detonated its first nuke.

Translation: Social Justice Warrior to English

Today I came upon this handy translator of common SJW phrases into English:
1:  "Let's have a conversation." = "Your opinion hurts my feelings and you need to change it."
2.  "Educate yourself!" = "I can't understand why you don't agree with the accepted narrative."
3.  "You are a racist!" = "You're white, and probably male, cis-gendered, and straight."
4.  "You're a misogynist!" = "You're white, and probably male, cis-gendered, and straight."
5.  "You're an Islamophobe!" = "You have common sense, which is, of course, a violation of accepted SocJus norms."
6.  "I can't be a racist because racism equals privilege plus discrimination." = "I am a racist and hate white people."
7.  "That's triggering!" = "Waaaaaaaah waaaaaaaah waaaaaaaah!" or perhaps "This made me cry, and I will throw a temper tantrum unless you make it go away."
8.  "We need a safe space!" = "We wish to reinstitute segregation along racial and ethnic lines."
9.  "Sexuality is sacred!" = "If you are not a SJW, all sex is rape and therefore you are a rapist."
10.  "This is an example of rape culture!" = "I saw a woman more attractive than...(I am)...and this hurts my feelings."
11.  "I am oppressed." = "I feel threatened by the peasantry" or perhaps "Let them eat cake."
12.  "I was raped." = "I had sex and later regretted it."  Remember, this is SJW speak, and they use the term "rape" in a much more figurative sense than the normal person's "I was compelled by physical force to have sex against my will", which really IS a horrible thing.  By the way, see the bottom part of this post for more.
13.  "Gamers are dead." = "Gamers irritate me."
14.  "Fat is beautiful." = "Every human being is equally attractive to every other human being, except white males, who are really, really ugly."
15.  "Jesus was a socialist." = "I'm a moron who thinks that a cursory understanding of religion fed to me by the media is more accurate than the beliefs of those who actually adhere to and study their faith."
16.  "Everybody should be equal." = "Give me money."
17.  "I was discriminated against." = "Somebody doesn't like me."
18.  "I think you're a Nazi." = "Everything I don't like is literally Hitler.  The undercooked fries from McDonalds?  Hitler.  The fitness magazine depicting attractive men and women?  Hitler.  Straight people?  Hitler.  White people?  Hitler."
19.  "I think you're a homophobe." = "You're a cis-gendered heterosexual who failed to praise homosexuality with every second breath."
20.  "That's cultural appropriation." = "White people have no culture, hence they steal it from everyone else."

OK, so you didn't like #12 above?  Here's just one example of it:
Two students expelled for campus sexual assault are suing their university, alleging racism played a role in their case.

The two accused students, identified in the lawsuit as Justin Browning and Alphonso Baity, II, are both African-American. They were accused by a white woman, identified in the lawsuit only as M.K., after an encounter at a party.

Browning and Baity were expelled despite the fact that every witness interviewed corroborated the accused students' story, and that witnesses came forward to say that M.K. bragged about the encounter as a consensual act. Not only were they expelled, but the expulsions came just two days after the accusation was filed, and campus procedures regarding sexual assault accusations were not followed.
Update, 1/9/16:  For those to want to pretend the recent wave of New Years Eve rapes in Europe didn't occur, or discredit anyone who tries to bring it up, here are some excuses you might try (and some lefties did try--see here):

1. It was a false flag operation designed to discredit innocent lovely immigrants
2. You can’t talk about these things because it encourages the ‘Far Right’
3. Rape is only a ‘thing’ when white people do it
4. Ooh look some cute kids! And they’re Syrian refugees!!!
5. Nothing to do with Islam. It’s because all men are rapists, obviously

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Switching From The ACT to the SAT

My guest post over at Joanne's today was about Colorado's 11th-hour switch from requiring the ACT for all 11th graders to requiring the SAT.

Back To Work

For some reason that no one I've talked to knows, we didn't work on Monday of this week.  We showed up to work on Tuesday, which for us secondary teachers was a "work day"--finish up grading final exams and entering semester grades.

Today the dumplings showed up.  I didn't have too many changes to my classes, not that that really matters at the beginning of a semester.  And in my classes, at least, we jumped right back into work.  None of this "transitioning" from break to school; no, we dove right in.

It was good to be back.  It was a nice break, now I've got to earn my keep again!

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

What's Appropriate On A T-Shirt At School

Will there ever be a good, legal answer to the question: What's acceptable on a t-shirt at school, and what's not?
A principal at a Tennessee high school told a student in front of her peers that her shirt reading “Some People Are Gay, Get Over It” was not allowed.

Nor was “any other shirt referencing LGBT rights,” because such messages are “sexual,” according to a federal judge’s ruling last week that approved an injunction against the school’s enforcement of the ban.

Richland High School’s stated rationale for the ban was to protect Rebecca Young and other students wearing such shirts from “bullying or harassment” by their peers, though only her principal, Micah Landers, and Giles County director of schools, Phillip Wright, made a commotion over it.

Judge Kevin Sharp was surprised this case landed on his desk: “The legal ground covering such issues is so well-trod that the Court finds itself surprised at the need to journey down this path.” (Indeed, the school didn’t bother responding to the lawsuit.)

The Tinker standard from the Supreme Court doesn’t allow schools to invent a “disruption” out of thin air to justify a suppression, particularly when there’s no evidence that the school is also barring anti-LGBT messages on shirts, Sharp ruled.

Yet schools have done exactly that for t-shirt speech that is currently out of favor – Confederate flags and anti-LGBT messages – and courts have upheld those bans, as Frank LoMonte of the Student Press Law Center notes in a contextual analysis of Young v. Giles...

The lesson to students whose views have fallen out of favor with mainstream culture is clear: Silence yourself or you will be punished and courts will uphold discrimination against you, while your opposing peers can spread their message all they want.
How soon will we see a complaint against someone wearing a pro-bacon t-shirt? You think I'm kidding, but I'm I'm just prescient.

Different Problems in K-12 and Higher Education

For my guest-blogging duties over at Joanne's place today, I actually made two posts.  The first was about a suit against Amherst College by a teaching assistant who claims she was supposed to have sex with students in order to boost enrollment in the Spanish department.  The second post discusses Detroit Public Schools debt--which is set to overtake its expenditure on payroll and benefits.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Friedrichs v. CTA, The Supreme Court Case That Will Hopefully Eliminate Forced Unionism

Still guest-blogging over at Joanne's blog, today I posted about Friedrichs v. CTA, which will be heard by the US Supreme Court this month with a ruling expected before the end of the term this summer.  Being a signatory on two amicus briefs for this case, it is my hope that the Supreme Court will rule that forced unionism is a violation of my First Amendment right of freedom of association and thus will end agency fee payments forever.

Until freedom from unionism is the law of the land, we at the California Teachers Empowerment Network will still inform teachers about their options regarding union membership.