Friday, September 21, 2018

Believable But Indefensible Behavior In Berkeley

Pee on the idiots instead:
The 25-year veteran said he and his colleagues had “never been treated with such disrespect and disregard” as they were during Free Speech Week.

They were using a ballroom to rest and eat in the student union building, and it was “completely understandable” when they were asked to use an external stairwell to get in and out of the ballroom, so as not to disrupt student activities.

What was “offensive and unacceptable” was when they were asked to “not to use any restrooms” in the building, “as it was upsetting some students,” he said. (The officer’s email is phrased in the passive tense, and does not give any clue as to who made these requests, even as general as building staff or student activists.)

Not only does this request potentially violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is simply “unconscionable” to put public restrooms in a public building off-limits to police, he wrote:
How can we foster a sense of community policing when the campus community, that we work hard to protect, has such disdain for us as fellow human beings that would deny us such a basic human function. [sic] If we treated a member of the campus community in this way we would most certainly be held accountable and rightly so.

The Stopped Clock Is Right

Don't let his common sense here throw you, he's still cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs:
Amid opposition from teachers and school boards, Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday rejected legislation that would have delayed the start time for most California high schools and middle schools until at least 8:30 a.m.

“These are the types of decisions best handled in the local community,” Brown wrote in a veto message for Senate Bill 328, dismissing the “one-size-fits-all approach.”

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.