Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Who Was Right, and Who Was Wrong?

Sarah Palin said we should "drill, baby, drill!"  Barack Obama said we "can't just drill our way out of the problem."  Headline today:
America is now the world's largest oil producer
Just one more data point as evidence that not only was he an empty suit, he was an idiot.

So-called Social Justice Math

Does anyone truly believe this crap, or do people spout this stuff just to get a rise out of people like me, or perhaps to flaunt their liberal/progressive bona fides?
The National Science Foundation is spending over $1 million to train two-dozen "social justice" math teachers in Philadelphia.

The Drexel University project will promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) high school curriculums (sic) that are "steeped in the context of social justice."
Know what I'd like?  A curriculum steeped in the context of excelling at math.
"Inquiry-based instruction supports this approach as it opens communication among students by establishing a learning community of shared knowledge and experience," the grant states. "Seminars related to mindfulness and developing emotional intelligence will augment the Scholars' coursework. The latter will be scaffolded to develop the following behaviors: professionalism, growth mindset, commitment to serving all students well, and cultural competency."
Inquiry-based education takes quite a bit of time.  Good luck teaching everything that needs to be taught in a course.  As for everything else in that paragraph--learning community, developing emotional intelligence, scaffolding, cultural competency--complete and total crap.  It just is.  And I'm not going to pretend otherwise just because it's popular to do so, or because it would hurt someone's feelings if I don't.  Reality doesn't care about your feelings.

All Those Union Member Teachers Sure Must Be Racist!

What other conclusion can you draw from this headline?
California still suspending black and Native American students way more than whites
Is it at all possible that those groups of students misbehave "way more than whites"?  Clearly not.  California's teachers, the vast majority of whom are union members, are racists.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

An Observation On Progress Report Grades

It's "progress report time" at school, which means that we're required to post interim grades so parents and kids can see how they're doing in class.

Among other classes, I've taught pre-calculus (trig and analysis) for most of the 15+ years I've been at my current school.  When completing progress report grades, I noted what I thought was a lot of D's and F's in my pre-calculus class, so I looked up past years' information.  Sure enough, just as an example, last year I had only 1 D or F at the first progress report; this year I have 11. The contrast with other years is just as stark.

What happened?  What's changed?  I can't be sure, but this is the first year that pre-calculus students at my school had gone through so-called Integrated Math at our school as opposed to the Algebra 1-Geometry-Algebra 2 sequence.  I don't know if that's the cause or not, but it's certainly a likely explanation.

I'm going to keep my eyes open on this one.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

How You Can Tell That Yesterday's Training Was Worthless

This is a "paradigm shift", switching from "evaluation" to "growth".

Honestly, I have enough to do without added work on my part for an evaluation growth system that's meaningless.  Example:  I have to supply 2 pieces of "evidence" for each of 9 "essential elements".  Such evidence, though, could be something as silly as a picture, a seating chart, or an assignment.  During our many meetings with our "facilitator" (usually an administrator who has more important things to do than spend a half an hour with me several times a year going over my "growth"), we are supposed to "observe the process, not the content".  What????

What attributes make a good math teacher?  That was the title of one of my research papers for one of my master's degree classes.  It was a review of literature, and here's the conclusion:
There are no definitive skills, knowledge, or attributes that have been identified, the possession of which will, ipso facto, make a good math teacher. There is no known way to predict in pre-service who will become a good math teacher, and there is no known protocol (such as the MKT) for determining effective math teachers. Furthermore, popular pedagogical styles do not seem to improve student performance, so the teachers who employ them cannot rightly be deemed effective.
Yet, we are to spend hours and hours on form over substance.

This new evaluation growth regime focuses a lot on behaviors the exceptional teacher will have, and a few times a comparison of our standards to National Board standards was mentioned.  In my research, what did I find out about National Board?
At the turn of the 21st century, National Board certification was a trumpeted way to recognize high-quality teachers. To achieve National Board certification, teachers were assessed in a variety of domains that reflected a particular pedagogical slant. Peculiarly, student achievement was not one of the assessed areas. In research pertaining to National Board certified teachers, the results depended on whether or not student achievement was factored into the study...

Yeh also made reference to my opening comment on p. 3 of this paper:
“The theory of action underlying NBPTS certification is that it is possible to improve achievement by replacing weak teachers with strong teachers. The quality of teaching is an intermediate, rather than a final goal. Society cares about the quality of teaching to the extent that it improves student outcomes” (Yeh, 2010, pp. 223-224).
Perhaps because of the style of teaching promoted by National Board certification—namely, discovery learning—National Board certified teachers “were less effective in math than never certified teachers” (Yeh, 2010, p. 228), a damning indictment, indeed. Yeh found that “rapid assessment” (providing teachers with information specifically on how to improve student performance) is “three magnitudes as cost-effective as Board certification” (Yeh, 2010, p. 220), and concluded that it is in fact more cost effective than NB certification, value-added assessment of teacher performance, or imposing higher requirements on prospective teachers (Yeh, 2010, p. 233).
Clearly, I'm not going to be impressed by National Board standards.  If you're interested, here's the citation for the Yeh study:

Yeh, S. S. (2010). The Cost-Effectiveness of NBPTS Teacher Certification. Education Review, 220-241.

What's the biggest problem with National Board standards?  They focused on teacher behaviors and not student achievement.  What's my issue with all this silliness on which my "growth" is now going to be evaluated?  It stresses some things I couldn't care less about, and ignores my strength--the ability to transmit knowledge to teenagers in such a way as to allow them to learn and excel in math.  I agree with Yeh:  "Society cares about the quality of teaching to the extent that it improves student outcomes." (italics mine--Darren)

Well, it wouldn't be teacher training unless there was butcher paper hanging around the room, right?  RIGHT?  Well, this training didn't disappoint:
All around the room.  And you see that little rainbow of color on the right side of the picture?  Sentence strips.

The first 5 1/2 hours of this training was selling the new paradigm and writing on butcher paper.  It was only in the last half hour that we actually determined which of the 9 "essential elements" we wanted to focus on for growth this year, and began filling out the first page of our documentation forms (which we must have ready when we have our first meeting with our "facilitator").  And you know what?  Those forms look a lot like the forms we filled out when it was an "evaluation" rather than a record of "growth".

It was a beautiful day outside yesterday.

There were a few dozen teachers in the room, and I don't know how many other rooms had this training going on as well.  I estimate that, on average, each teacher earned $350 yesterday.  That's a lot of money to blow on an ineffective evaluation growth system.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Emptiness and Despair

In the Harry Potter books, bad people were locked up in a prison called Azkaban.  Wraith-like beings called dementors, which could literally suck the soul out of you, kept guard over the prisoners.

Today I had to attend 6 hours of district/union training in how to be a participant in my own evaluation.  It was held at Azkaban, and conducted by dementors.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

On Island Time

Need a break?  Have some money?  Check out this site, one of my long-time favorites.  I take a mental vacation whenever I visit that one.

And In The Socialist Paradise of Kalifornia...

Newly released federal estimates show California’s poverty rate remained the highest in the nation, despite a modest fall, and the state’s falling uninsured rate slowed for the first time since before Medicaid expansion.

According to the Census Bureau, the share of Californians in poverty fell to 19 percent — a 1.4 percent decrease from last year. However, policy experts warned that in spite of the good news more than 7 million people still struggle to get by in the state. link
If Samuel Morse were testing the telegraph in California today, his first message would be "What hath liberalism wrought".

What do we want? More government! When do we want it? Now!

Female Privilege?

I don't think it's out of bounds to suggest there's a double standard at work here:
A Bronx high school teacher who admitted to performing oral sex on her 14-year-old student won’t face jail time — and she might even return to the classroom...

On Wednesday, Judge Michael Obus sentenced the woman to 10 years' probation and found her to be a Level 1 sex offender. Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Myers to a minimum of two years in prison.

As part of her plea agreement at Manhattan Criminal Court, Myers also got to keep her teaching certificate.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

My 2nd-Favorite Day of the School Year

Tonight is Back To School Night, 2nd only to Open House in the spring as a joyless requirement of the job.  Drive 25 min home, drive back 25 min tonight, and then come home after dark--only to go back to school in the morning.

Guess I'll take a little nap now.  *sigh*

Monday, September 10, 2018

Facts Feminists Forget

Good points, all:
It’s always entertaining when a poorly thought-out feminist argument refutes itself, saving the rest of us the trouble.

In a widely shared moment late last week, Sen. Kamala Harris asked Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, “Can you think of any laws that give government the power to make decisions about the male body?”

The question was in the midst of Harris’ extensive grandstanding so Kavanaugh didn’t have an immediate answer. But there’s an obvious one: Selective Service...

In a piece for The New York Times last year about how Republican men are the only ones who think being a woman is easier than being a man, writer Claire Cain Miller notes that for women, “It’s catcalls on the street, disrespect at work and unbalanced responsibilities at home.”

For men, it’s far more dire. Men naturally die younger, more men are in prison than women, fewer men go to college, far more men commit suicide. No one ever asks men what they plan to do after the baby is born because the answer is always to continue working. On a sinking ship, men are the last ones off. Sexism is a real problem, but it doesn’t trump every other problem.

Being a woman isn’t easy, but that’s because being a human isn’t easy. When compared to men, though, women have it made. We may not run the world but that’s mostly because we don’t want to. Feminism tells women to strive to be just like men. Smart women should respond: “No, thanks.”
There are more examples in the full article.

Academic Apartheid

Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron should be read as a warning, not as a how-to manual:
A math education professor is arguing that gifted math classes cause “academic apartheid” among students, claiming that the practice is rooted in “capitalist exploitations and settler colonialism.”  link
We've come full circle in 17 years, from No Child Left Behind to No Child Gets Ahead.

Truth vs Dogma

When the facts contradict your expectations, believe the facts.  Not everyone believes that aphorism, however:
In the highly controversial area of human intelligence, the ‘Greater Male Variability Hypothesis’ (GMVH) asserts that there are more idiots and more geniuses among men than among women. Darwin’s research on evolution in the nineteenth century found that, although there are many exceptions for specific traits and species, there is generally more variability in males than in females of the same species throughout the animal kingdom.

Evidence for this hypothesis is fairly robust and has been reported in species ranging from adders and sockeye salmon to wasps and orangutans, as well as humans. Multiple studies have found that boys and men are over-represented at both the high and low ends of the distributions in categories ranging from birth weight and brain structures and 60-meter dash times to reading and mathematics test scores. There are significantly more men than women, for example, among Nobel laureates, music composers, and chess champions—and also among homeless people, suicide victims, and federal prison inmates.

Darwin had also raised the question of why males in many species might have evolved to be more variable than females, and when I learned that the answer to his question remained elusive, I set out to look for a scientific explanation. My aim was not to prove or disprove that the hypothesis applies to human intelligence or to any other specific traits or species, but simply to discover a logical reason that could help explain how gender differences in variability might naturally arise in the same species...

Once we had written up our findings, Sergei and I decided to try for publication in the Mathematical Intelligencer, the ‘Viewpoint’ section of which specifically welcomes articles on contentious topics. The Intelligencer’s editor-in-chief is Marjorie Wikler Senechal, Professor Emerita of Mathematics and the History of Science at Smith College. She liked our draft, and declared herself to be untroubled by the prospect of controversy. “In principle,” she told Sergei in an email, “I am happy to stir up controversy and few topics generate more than this one. After the Middlebury fracas, in which none of the protestors had read the book they were protesting, we could make a real contribution here by insisting that all views be heard, and providing links to them.”
Not everyone felt that way.
First, the National Science Foundation wrote to Sergei requesting that acknowledgment of NSF funding be removed from our paper with immediate effect. I was astonished...

But, that same day, the Mathematical Intelligencer’s editor-in-chief Marjorie Senechal notified us that, with “deep regret,” she was rescinding her previous acceptance of our paper. “Several colleagues,” she wrote, had warned her that publication would provoke “extremely strong reactions” and there existed a “very real possibility that the right-wing media may pick this up and hype it internationally.” For the second time in a single day I was left flabbergasted. Working mathematicians are usually thrilled if even five people in the world read our latest article. Now some progressive faction was worried that a fairly straightforward logical argument about male variability might encourage the conservative press to actually read and cite a science paper?
Of course there's much, much more.

You knew where this story was going when you started reading this post; you've read this far and were not disappointed. Go read the whole thing.

Media Bias

President Trump says bad things about the press, and he's Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pot, and Attila the Hun, all rolled into one.  President Obama did bad things regarding the press, and he's still Black Jesus:
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY: Obama Treated Press Worse Than Trump Does, But Media Didn’t Care.
“That is is not my recollection of the eight years under President Obama,” Hemingway said. “He blamed many bad things in the country on people watching Fox News. He claimed it was on every bar in the country why Democrats were hurt. He tried to freeze out Fox News in multiple instances. He spied on reporters. He’s one of the worst presidents when it comes to actual actions when it comes to the media.”

“President Donald Trump speaks against the press in a way that does not live up to what we would hope to hear in terms of freedom of the press,” she continued. “But when it comes to actual actions taken against the media, the Obama administration was bad and the media didn’t care. When Donald Trump lightly criticizes the press, they boycott him, they freak out about the White House press dinner, and it’s that difference in how they reacted to criticisms by President Obama toward press to how they reacted to criticism from Trump is frustrating.”
It’s different now because shut up.
Lifted in its entirety from Instapundit.

Sunday, September 09, 2018


Violence is always just about to descend on the American right, but it always lands on the American left:

The Coddling of the American Mind

Remember, Haidt is self-described leftie:
In 2015, psychology professor Jonathan Haidt and free-speech activist Greg Lukianoff published "The Coddling of the American Mind" in The Atlantic. It argued that speech codes, trigger warnings, and safe spaces on college campuses are "disastrous for education—and mental health." It quickly became the most-read article in the history of the magazine. link
"Medicalizing" complaints, arguing that speech they don't like will physically harm them. That's a very astute (and alarming)observation.

Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff explain how "good intentions and bad ideas" have made young people super-fragile—and how to make things better.
Update, 9/10/18: Here's another view of things:
A college education isn’t intended to make people think any more, write Greg Lukianoff, a First Amendent specialist, and Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist, in The Coddling of the American Mind. “It is meant to make them comfortable.”

The culture of “safetyism” promotes three Great Untruths, they write. What doesn’t kill you makes you weakeralways trust your feelings; and life is a battle between good people and evil people.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Embarrassing Propaganda

After our staff meeting today, our union reps gave us a little update on contract negotiations.  But before that, they showed a video about the Janus case.  View it on YouTube and notice that comments are disabled; all we know is the publisher, and it's my local union!  No comments.  I wonder why.  Unionistas, and liberals in general, don't want to debate, they don't want to share ideas.  They want you to hear only one side of an issue, their side, and they'll do whatever is necessary to stifle any other view. 

It was the worst of union propaganda.  They start with how the Supreme Court overturned the 41-year-old Abood decision.  That's like complaining that Brown v. Board of Education overturned Plessy!  The loaded talk--did you know that "school choice" is billionaire code for eliminating public schools?  At the mention of those "individuals and organizations" who want to "destroy unions", and at several other times thoughout this video, I saw people looking at me to see my reaction.  Mostly my reaction was just to smile, or to roll my eyes and smile.  Most of them smiled back, they understood.

If this is the best my local union can come up with, it should be obvious even to a child that they're not worthy of my money.  And indeed, they're not.

Is it really so hard to believe that I can hold the views I do in good conscience?  I wish I was getting a paycheck from those evil billionaires whose only desire in life is to destroy public education so they can get rich(er) off private schools!  If the public wants public schools, they'll have them--why can't the public want both public and private schools?  I've said it before and I'll say it again, "Universal public education is sacred, public schools are not."

Watch out, unionistas.  I'm coming for you.

Gawd, they're so pathetic.  What a little temper tantrum.  They're so angry that they can't use my money to make such a poor video.

I don't usually badmouth my local union, but in this case?  I mock you.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Clearly a Genius, With An Ocasio-Cortez-like Degree In Economics In the Offing

This person is running for governor of one of our most populous states:
In her quest to become New York’s next governor, Cynthia Nixon has advocated for a single-payer health care system in the state – something studies have shown would be a costly endeavor...

Nixon recently told the New York Daily News editorial board she did not yet have a plan to pay for single-payer.

“Pass it and then figure out how to fund it,” Nixon said.

I say that sarcastically.  Liberals say it fawningly.

Hurting Those You're Trying to Help

Affirmative action should be unconstitutional.  Until then, it's just bad policy:

This essay discusses the aftermath of Proposition 209, which prohibits (among other things) discrimination and preferential treatment based on race or ethnicity in public education. As its proponents predicted, when campuses of the University of California stopped engaging in race-preferential admissions, the number of African-American and Hispanic students decreased at the most-highly ranked campuses in the system, but they increased on many of the other campuses. The essay discusses in particular results from the University of California at San Diego, where the performance of under-represented minority students improved dramatically following the implementation of Proposition 209. For example, immediately prior to the implementation of Proposition 209, only one black student had a freshman-year GPA of 3.5 or better — a single black honor student in a freshman class of 3,268. In contrast, 20 percent of the white students in the class had such a GPA. The next year, with Proposition 209, a full 20 percent of black students could boast a GPA of 3.5 or better after their first year. Similarly, immediately prior to Proposition 209, 15 percent of black students and 17 percent of American Indian were in academic jeopardy (defined as a GPA of less than 2.0), while only 4% of white students were. Immediately after Proposition 209’s implementation, the under-represented minority failure rate collapsed. The difference between racial groups all but evaporated, with the black and American Indian rate falling to 6 percent.

Keywords: Proposition 209, affirmative action, race-preferential admissions, race, admissions, California
The elimination of mismatches between abilities and expectations is the most likely explanation.  Of course, there's a continuing effort underway to backdoor race-based admissions via the elimination of college entrance exams and "holistic evaluation", because screw you and facts.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

When A Bad Battery Is A Good Thing

Regular readers of this blog may recall that several weeks ago I sold my 13' trailer and bought a 20' trailer.  I still haven't taken the "new" trailer out for a shakedown cruise, but I've been filling it with necessary tools and supplies for when I do.

I noticed a couple weeks ago that the lights no longer turn on inside.  Is there a draw in the system, or is it a bad battery?  I plugged the trailer into 110V last night, not sure if (but kinda thinking) there's a built-in battery charger.  If there is, it didn't work.  No charge at all.

Took the battery to Auto Zone.  They charged it for an hour and a half and then tested it.  Bad battery.

That finding actually gives me hope.  A new battery might cost me $100.  Having a shop try to track down a draw in the electrical system would cost me over $100 per hour.  Hopefully a bad battery is the entire problem.

Update, 9/9/18:  The battery did not come from Auto Zone, so I took it to where it was originally purchased.  They charged it for 90 min and then used the same tester as Auto Zone did.  Good battery.

I put it in the trailer yesterday.  I'll go out in a bit and see if any of the lights work.

Update #2, 9/16/18:  They worked, for a little while.  Then I shut everything off and left it until yesterday.  No lights.  Might be a draw in the system.  Damn.

Commentary On The Liberal Temper Tantrum Seen At Judge Kavanaugh's Confirmation Hearing Today

A (supposedly) wise man once said, "Elections have consequences."  Liberals loved that when he said it, they're not liking the practice of it right now.  That's why they've been throwing a non-stop temper tantrum since November 2016.

Why is the left so against Kavanaugh's confirmation--keeping in mind that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed by a 96-3 vote, even though she was nominated by a man who was under criminal investigationHere's why:
Did you know that the U.S. Supreme Court is there to protect the little guy and minorities, uphold women’s rights, and destroy school choice? That’s according to the make-it-up-as-you-go-along left, including the teachers unions. In reality, the job of a SCOTUS Justice is simply to defend the U.S. Constitution. Perhaps Walter Williams put it best when he recently wrote, “The U.S. Constitution represents “our rules of the game” and “Supreme Court justices should be seen as umpires or referees, whose job is to enforce neutral rules"...

Ultimately, as The Federalist’s David Harsanyi writes, “Democrats Don’t Fear Brett Kavanaugh. They Fear the Constitution.” The unions and others on the left believe that the Constitution is a “living, breathing” document. This means they can contort it to fit their political and social agendas. Brett Kavanaugh knows what the Constitution is about and, if his appointment is successful, will wisely rule the way the founders intended.
We can hope he will.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Class, Or Lack Thereof

In reference to anti-President-Trump comments made at recent funerals:
I don’t mean to sound self-centered, but I hope that at my funeral, whoever delivers the eulogy will talk about me, and not their or my political enemies...

This kind of stuff doesn’t make Trump look bad, it makes his enemies look petty and weak. They’ve taken what should be solemn moments of reflection on the legacies of those they came to honor and instead used their moments in the spotlight to attack someone who wasn’t even there. They say Trump has had a negative impact on political discourse, right? So what exactly is using the funeral of a music icon or a war hero and longtime U.S. senator to attack a sitting U.S. president? Is that patriotic somehow? Is that appropriate or heroic? How exactly does attacking Trump during a eulogy make him look bad? Newsflash: it doesn’t.

I’m not sure which funeral wins the Paul Wellstone Award this year, Aretha Franklin’s or John McCain’s. All I know is it’s sad that 16 years after that disgusting display people still haven’t learned there’s a time and a place for everything, and a funeral is not the time to go after your political enemies. Aretha Franklin is more than just a prop to use to attack Trump. John McCain is more than just a politician who didn’t like Trump. Hopefully one day we’ll remember that.
Hopefully. But don't count on it.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

End of the Memory

I've gotten so far behind in grading the past couple weeks that I went in to school and worked for 2 hrs today, and working on the weekend is something I almost never do.  I'll probably do the same thing tomorrow.

When I couldn't grade any longer, I went towards the athletic fields to see why the parking lot was full of cars.  There was a water polo match going on, and my school's team didn't appear to be one of the competitors!  Then I looked over towards the football field and track, which is being upgraded:

And it came back to me.

I remember it well, that spring day in 1983.  I was young, thin, and swift, and my (soon to be undefeated) track team was in a meet against the team at the school where I currently teach.

I ran the mile that day, and as I came around the last turn my teammates were yelling at me to run faster, Darren, run faster!  I had the inside track, and an opponent was just behind my right shoulder.  I couldn't run any faster, but neither could he, and I crossed the finish line a fraction of a second before him.  I don't remember if I placed or not, maybe not, but I ran my fastest recorded mile on that track, 4 minutes and 59 seconds.

Until very recently, that track was dirt and gravel.  We ran wearing running shoes with spikes screwed into the bottoms.  Soon enough there will be an all-weather track here, and races will be run in ordinary running shoes.

But I remember that one day, that one race, on that old track.  And I smile.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Housing Students

The 3rd Amendment to the Constitution prevents the quartering of soldiers in private houses.

UC Santa Cruz is asking faculty and staff to  quarter students in their houses:
The Bay Area’s housing crisis is hitting local colleges, too.

Facing a shortage of housing for people who want to live on campus as the start of the fall quarter looms, UC Santa Cruz sent an email this week to faculty and staff asking them to open their homes to students.
You've got to be kidding.

To me, this is simple.  If you can't afford to attend a certain school, choose one you can afford to attend.  Be sure to factor housing into your budget.

See?  Simple.

And don't whine back to me about not being able to attend certain so-called elite schools, either.  First off, Santa Cruz isn't an elite school.  Second, you can get a good education anywhere if you apply yourself to that goal.  And no, no one is entitled to attend Santa Cruz.  This state already provides no-out-of-pocket-cost education to everyone, non-citizens included, for 13 years.  You don't have a "right" or an "entitlement" to get higher education.  If you can't afford a certain school, pick another one.  I don't know why the mere thought of that is anathema to some people.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

New California Law Puts Thousands Out Of Business

Liberal fantasies gone wild, as it wasn't the 3 Republicans in the state legislature who made this happen:
California’s newly signed law abolishing money bail makes the livelihoods of thousands of bail bondsmen obsolete – and in Sacramento, which is dotted with colorful figures from the industry, many are frustrated by the move.

There are 3,200 licensed bail bondsmen in the state and the industry accounts for at least 7,000 jobs, according to Maggie Kreins, vice president of the California Bail Agents Association. .

“Bail bondsmen are insurance agents,” said Topo Padilla, president of the Golden State Bail Association and Sacramento bail bondsman. “We issue an insurance policy to the court guaranteeing a person’s appearance in court. If a person fails to appear in court, the bail industry goes out and returns people to the court. If we fail to return the person to court in time, we pay the full amount of the bond"...

“With a stroke of a pen, this bill eliminates the bail bond business,” Topo Padilla said.

SB 10 replaces bondsmen with county-funded teams that are responsible for finding people who don’t show up on their court date.
I wonder how this will turn out.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Is This Really Something That Should Be Determined At The State Level?

Whenever people want "the government" to make a statewide law about education, I always ask:  is this proposed law just as good for the people of Susanville as it is for the people of San Francisco?  Does it make as much sense in Lincoln as it does in Los Angeles?  Will it have the same effect in Madera as in Santa Monica?

We have urban, suburban, and rural areas in California.  Each has different needs, and the needs of students are different in each.  That's kinda sorta why we pay lip service to "local control" of schools and districts.  But the do-gooders want to enforce their righteous good on everyone:
School boards and teachers unions successfully shot down a legislative proposal last year that would delay start times until 8:30 a.m. at middle and high schools in California.

Now the bill is back, with a better shot at becoming law.

Sen. Anthony Portantino, who introduced the bill, cites public research that says later school start times improve pupil health. He has several studies on his side, and his staff put together a 218-page book on the policy last year to prove it.

The Democrat from La CaƱada Flintridge cites a 2014 recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics to start middle and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m. to offset sleep deprivation. The AAP linked insufficient sleep to physical and mental health problems in adolescents.
I always ask: do students in other developed and/or high-performing countries have the sleep deprivation we supposedly have here in California?

A couple of years ago I polled my senior classes (sample size: approximately 100) if they would rather start school earlier or later.  Even those half-asleep in 1st period said they'd rather start earlier--they wanted their afternoons free.  The vote was close to 100-0.

Wait, who is this strange fellow in my bed?
The California Teachers Association argues that Senate Bill 328 eliminates local control and that legislators in Sacramento should not unilaterally dictate the first school bell for diverse communities all over the state.

“It should be a conversation that should be had by school district officials, parents, students and educators,” said Claudia Briggs, a CTA spokesperson. “We shouldn’t have a one-size fits all approach for all school start times based on how geographically diverse and large our state is.”
Go figure!

And this Democrat makes the most sense of all:
“Maybe we should just have a mandatory bedtime bill because that’s the real issue here,” O’Donnell said. “If you’re worried about kids not getting enough sleep, maybe they should go to bed earlier.“
Parental responsibility for raising kids.  No village.  Hmmm.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Social Science

But there’s a wrinkle here and you may have guessed what it is. The world of social science is overwhelmingly left-wing: so heavily agenda-driven, so rife with confirmation bias and skewed methodology that almost inevitably its studies will show conservatives as blinkered and dim, and lefties as open-minded and clever regardless of the evidence.

Lest you think this is my own bias showing, another recent study confirmed it: a survey of 479 sociology professors found that only 4 per cent identified as conservative or libertarian, while 83 per cent identified as liberal or left-radical. In another survey — of psychologists this time — only 6 per cent identified as ‘conservative overall’.

Just occasionally, though, a more balanced study does slip through the net — like the one just published by a team from Oxford University. The study by Nathan Cofnas et al — Does Activism in the Social Sciences Explain Conservatives’ Distrust of Scientists? — pours scorn on the idea that conservatives are any more anti-science than lefties. It’s not science they distrust so much as scientists — especially ones in more nebulous, activism-driven fields like ecology or sociology. As Cofnas told Campus Reform, a site that exposes left-wing bias at universities: ‘Conservatives are right to be sceptical. Take any politicised issue that is connected to some disagreement about scientific fact. I do not believe there is a single case in the last couple of decades where a major scientific organisation took a position that went against the platform of the Democratic party.’ He added: ‘What an odd coincidence that “science” always, without exception, supports the liberal worldview.’
If you have to add the word "science" to the name of your field in order to give it some gravitas, then it's not science at all. It's just not.  And you're not a "scientist".

UpdateNPR makes the point of the author above.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A Funny (But Practical) Use For Math

I fear some high school students would never be able to shut off the alarm:
Do you have trouble oversleeping in the morning? Are you tired of losing the battle with your traditional alarm clock? Do you want the perfect way to make sure that you get up on time whenever you want, and wherever you are? Then you need Mathe Alarm Clock!

...Unlike conventional alarm clocks and alarm apps, Mathe Alarm Clock forces you to solve multiple-choice math puzzles before shutting off its alarm. You'll never worry again about unconsciously pressing your alarm clock's "snooze" button and oversleeping!
Get it (only for Apple products) here.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Current "Long March" Through Institutions

May this plan have as much success as Bolivarian Socialism has:
The Young Democratic Socialists of America organization is urging socialists to “take jobs as teachers” in order to exploit the “political, economic, and social potential the industry holds"...

For those who might be reluctant to engage directly in teaching, the handbook suggests non-teacher positions that are often represented by education unions, such as “school secretaries, guidance counselors, psychologists, speech therapists, parent coordinators, and special education support staff.”

“There is a growing national network of educators in DSA working to transform our schools, our unions, and our society,” the section concludes. “Being a member of DSA means there is a pre-existing network of fellow socialists you can tap for support as you undertake this work.”
And then, the indoctrination of other people's children.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

What A Disservice We Do

Standards?  We don't need no stinkin' standards.

We let anyone pass through junior high.  Fail all 6 classes both years?  No problem.  Maybe we'll pretend to care and you'll pretend to learn something in summer school, but it certainly isn't mandatory--neither the attendance nor the learning.

So these kids who flunk their way through middle school get to high school, and all of a sudden the bar, which had been in the vicinity of their ankles, is now above their shoulders.  In order to graduate they have to pass 4 years of English, 2 years of math, etc.  That's right, pass.  And those are just the minimal state standards.  Then add in districts trying to outdo each other in the I-can-set-higher-graduation-standards-than-you sweepstakes, requiring students to have passed 3 years of math, 2 years of science, 2 years of foreign language, etc.  We've trained middle school students that you don't have to pass a thing in order to move on to the next grade, and then they get to high school, where actual standards enshrined in law, augmented by district policy, come into play.

Yes, they'll be able to jump through so-called credit recovery hoops if they fall far behind, and maybe they'll pass and eventually graduate even if they've learned nothing.  But at the very minimum we'll require them to jump through hoops, and perhaps pirouette, before we give them a diploma.

These 9th graders show up in the Miller Hall of Learning, and they want to stare at me during class.  They don't want to write anything down, don't want to practice, don't even want to try.  Not even take out a pencil or a piece of paper.  "I can't think today", as if that's a get-out-of-jail-free card.  It's probably even been a good enough reason to be free of effort in the past, but it's not sufficient now.  It's just not.  Seriously, you can't subtract 3 from both sides of this equation?  And you think this is OK?  I get it if some traumatic event just happened, but it seems it would be the normal state of things if I allowed it to be--as it was allowed to be before 9th grade.

Such 9th graders are always a challenge.  It's been awhile since I've had any freshmen but the top students, so I haven't dealt with this in a few years.  If I were naive I'd be surprised that nothing has changed on this front in the many years since I've had such students.  Instead I'm just disappointed.

Why we train students that apathy is OK, and why we reinforce that belief, is something I cannot fathom.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Yet Another Justification For My Classroom's Being a "No Phone Zone"

I don't allow phone use in my classroom.  Period.
The question of whether or not to allow students to use smartphones, laptops and other technology in the classroom has been long-debated, and at times, heated.

And just as a new school year is set to begin, a new study raises fresh concerns about potential downsides of multitasking during class.

The study, published in the journal Educational Psychology, found that when students divide attention between electronic devices and a classroom lecture, they still followed the lecture in the moment, but that long-term retention was reduced, resulting in lower grades on unit and final exams.

Arnold Glass, a researcher and professor at Rutgers University’s psychology department, ran the study with graduate student Mengxue Kang. He tells EdSurge that it’s fine for a student to use a digital device to take notes. The problem arises when the student starts dividing his attention between taking notes and other tasks, such as texting or watching a video. He adds that many students think using digital devices doesn’t have an effect on them, because their immediate comprehension doesn’t suffer.

“If you ask the a question right then, they’ll get it right,” he says. “Therefore, they’ll feel comfortable that they’re getting it all. However, a week later, they don’t remember it because that’s the effect of dividing attention.”
A study at my Alma Mater showed that laptops inhibit learning--and I assume phones are worse!

Are Your Remarks Racist or Sexist?

If you're a conservative or merely opposing a liberal, the answer is probably "yes" to both.  That's what I got out of this article :)
You are a decent and fair-minded person. You strive always to treat all people fairly and with dignity. In your heart of hearts, you know that you are not a racist, nor a sexist. But you also know that these are highly charged times. In spite of your pure heart and your very best efforts, you still fear that someone might unfairly accuse you of making a racist or sexist remark or slur. You want to avoid even the slightest appearance of engaging in racism or sexism.

And yet, it has become so complicated these days. Accusations fly everywhere, sometimes over words that to you seemed completely innocent. What to do? You need some guidance!

To help you, the Manhattan Contrarian has put together this weekend's Manhattan Contrarian Quiz. Take the Quiz. Study the answers. You will then know all there is to know about what is and is not racist and sexist in today's world.

The Quiz consists of ten questions, each of which is either an actual quotation or a hypothetical fact situation. For each question, you are to answer whether the posited fact situation or quotation does or does not demonstrate racism and/or sexism. Answers, and explanations, below the fold. One point for each correct answer!
When liberals call you a racist or a sexist, laugh at them. Mock them. Smile at them. It drives them crazy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Letting the Inmates Run The Asylum

While I guess it would be easier to have essentially no dress code to enforce than any dress code, I still wonder if this isn't doing a disservice to students:

Tube tops, tight pants, ripped jeans, short skirts and even pajamas are now acceptable attire at Alameda city schools under a new dress code adopted by the school board over the summer break.

Heads covered by hoodies also are allowed as long as faces are visible, as are comfy yoga pants, sweats or soccer shorts — and if underwear is peeking out the top of waistbands, that’s fine too.

Students will now have nearly unfettered freedom to wear almost whatever they want as long as they have a top, bottom, shoes and “clothing that covers specific body parts (genitals, buttocks, and areolae/nipples) with opaque material,” according to the new policy.

Approved on a trial basis for this school year, the new dress code is among the most permissive in the Bay Area, leaving it largely up to students and families to decide if shorts are too short or tops are too revealing.

District officials said they expect teachers, parents and guardians to have a range of reactions once school starts and policy goes live. The school board will review feedback and consider in the spring whether changes need to be made, said spokeswoman Susan Davis.
If adults were to wear certain types of clothing at school (in the workplace), it could be considered a form of sexual harassment.  I don't know why we'd teach teenagers that it's OK to wear such clothing at school.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Math Is Haaaaaard

It's a lot easier to complain about the patriarchy than it is actually to learn or accomplish something:
Engineering education has been infiltrated by a “phalanx of social justice warriors” who are steadily corrupting the field, according to a Michigan State University professor.

“They have sought out the soft underbelly of engineering, where phrases such as ‘diversity’ and ‘different perspectives’ and ‘racial gaps’ and ‘unfairness’ and ‘unequal outcomes’ make up the daily vocabulary,” asserts Mechanical Engineering professor Indrek Wichman in an essay published Wednesday by the James G. Martin Center.

“Instead of calculating engine horsepower or microchip power/size ratios or aerodynamic lift and drag, the engineering educationists focus on group representation, hurt feelings, and ‘microaggressions’ in the profession,” Wichman adds.

Citing the Purdue University School of Education Engineering as a case study, Wichman claims that “engineering education” schools increasingly focus on concepts that are incompatible with the actual discipline, such as “empowering” students and “reimagining” engineering as a more “socially connected” field of study.

“For the record, engineers ‘empower’ themselves and, most important, other people, by inventing things,” he points out. “Those things are our agents of change.”
Hear hear, it's about time someone in academia points this out.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Jordan Peterson on IQ

The End of an Epic Quest

I have a friend whose parents adopted him at birth.  He's known forever that he's adopted, and we've known each other since 1st grade. 

He was a dutiful son, and his parents were doting.  They deserved each other, and in the best of ways.

But of course he always wondered about his biological parents.  It was certainly nothing against the parents who raised him, but I wonder if there isn't some biological urge to know.  We're roughly the same age, and I'm kind of old, so he's wondered for a very long time.  His parents weren't forthcoming about his biological parents until late in their lives, and some of the information they had wasn't all that accurate.  Still, he wondered.  And sometimes searched, but to no avail.

Last year he did a 23&Me DNA test, and shortly after that received an email saying something to the effect of, "This test says you're my brother, is that possible?"

A few months ago I drove him to a city about 4 hours from here so he could meet some of his new-found siblings--I didn't think someone should drive that far alone when dealing with so much anxiety.  Thankfully their meeting went off without a hitch.

This weekend he drove further, but on his own.  He met another sibling, as well as his biological father.  He sent me a picture.  I wonder which of us had the bigger smile as he told me about the meeting.  And to think that he's gone from being an only child to having siblings, and nieces and nephews!

How must it feel, to reach the literal and absolute end of a lifelong search?

Not Quite What I'd Do, But...

He wasn't violent, which is more than you can say for leftist protesters when they show up at non-leftist gatherings.  He was shocking, and his actions mortified those present.  And he didn't do anything illegal.

Which is more foul, this or wearing pussy hats in public?
A meat-loving YouTuber staged a “shocking” demonstration at a vegan food festival in Amsterdam by chowing down on a raw veal heart “literally dripping” with blood.

Breaking Spaghetti

It's not a problem I've ever considered, but it has some interesting properties and ramifications:
If you happen to have a box of spaghetti in your pantry, try this experiment: Pull out a single spaghetti stick and hold it at both ends. Now bend it until it breaks. How many fragments did you make? If the answer is three or more, pull out another stick and try again. Can you break the noodle in two? If not, you're in very good company.

The spaghetti challenge has flummoxed even the likes of famed physicist Richard Feynman '39, who once spent a good portion of an evening breaking pasta and looking for a theoretical explanation for why the sticks refused to snap in two.

Feynman's kitchen experiment remained unresolved until 2005, when physicists from France pieced together a theory to describe the forces at work when spaghetti—and any long, thin rod—is bent. They found that when a stick is bent evenly from both ends, it will break near the center, where it is most curved. This initial break triggers a "snap-back" effect and a bending wave, or vibration, that further fractures the stick. Their theory, which won the 2006 Ig Nobel Prize, seemed to solve Feynman's puzzle. But a question remained: Could spaghetti ever be coerced to break in two?

The answer, according to a new MIT study, is yes—with a twist. In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers report that they have found a way to break spaghetti in two, by both bending and twisting the dry noodles.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Only An Educated Person Could Believe Something So Stupid

You'd think the field of math would be a bulwark against such idiocy, but you'd be wrong:
An Illinois professor who focuses on “equity” in mathematics will present her plan to redefine the field of study to oppose “objects, truths, and knowledge” at a 2019 conference.

University of Illinois education professor Dr. Rochelle Gutierrez will give her talk, titled “Mathematx: Towards a way of Being,” at the Mathematics Education and Society 10th International Conference in India during January and February 2019.

“The relationship between humans, mathematics, and the planet has been one steeped too long in domination and destruction,” Gutierrez notes in her presentation’s description. “I argue for a movement against objects, truths, and knowledge towards a way of being in the world that is guided by first principles — mathematx.”

“This shift from thinking of mathematics as a noun to mathematx as a verb holds potential for honouring our connections with each other as human and other-than-human persons, for balancing problem solving with joy, and for maintaining critical bifocality at the local and global level.”
Other-than-human persons?  As Sonny would say, "Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs":

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Why Is The School Involved In This At All?

School isn't even in session yet, and district personnel believe the video was not made on district property.  So why is the district even involved?
The Sacramento City Unified School District is investigating two of its students for allegedly posting a video with racist slurs in it on Instagram, Superintendent Jorge Aguilar wrote in a statement Wednesday.

A blurry, nine-second screengrab of the video was shared Tuesday on Facebook by Black Lives Matter Sacramento, and shows a male and a female teen wearing blackface or black masks. In one scene, a male voice says “I don’t think this bird likes n------.” In the second scene, he says “Hi, n-----,” as a female laugh is heard.

District spokesman Alex Barrios said the district believes the two people in the video are students at C.K. McClatchy High School, but has not yet determined their identities.

Excitement In The Homeland

It seems an ISIS killer has been captured here in River City:
An Iraqi national who entered the U.S. as a refugee was arrested this afternoon on charges he participated in ISIS killings in Iraq in 2014.

The arrest of Omar Abdulsattar Ameen comes after an arrest warrant was issued by an Iraqi court in May...

A side note: Sacramento is a declared "sanctuary city." 
What were the lefties chanting this past weekend?  Oh yes:  "No border, no wall, no USA at all."  Geniuses.

Last Day!

Students show up tomorrow.  Whatever I've done or failed to do, I've got to perform superbly starting tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The 3 C's

Today was our first official day back at work, and in the morning our teachers rotated through 5 or 6 different classrooms with a different type of instruction occurring in each.  I was one of the presenters, and I instructed on how to set up our online grading program.  There are some good ways, and some not-so-good ways, to set up the online grade book, and my goal was to give options how to set up a grade book using the good ways. 

What constitutes "good", you might ask, and that's a good question!  And the answer just came to me, and it was so fun that I used for each group of teachers that came in today.  A "good" setup is one that allows us to avoid "the 3 C's"--calls, complaints, and conferences.

It's not that I don't think teachers should talk to or meet with parents, it's just that I don't think teachers should have to do so unnecessarily.  I just have to believe that given a choice between going home or dealing with questions about how grades are calculated, most teachers would choose the former.  Set up your grade book in an intelligent, reasonable, and defensible manner, and you won't have to explain or justify it to people.  Save those interactions with parents for things more important than how the computer calculates grades.

We should strive to avoid or minimize the 3 C's:  calls, complaints, and conferences.  Good planning helps do that.