Thursday, August 31, 2006

Strip Club Raises Money for Las Vegas School District

I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but isn't there something a bit too "close to home" about this?

Via Newsalert (see blogroll at left), quoting from an AP story:

Scores (a strip club) raised the funds at an Aug. 23 back-to-school event called "Detention" that featured strippers dressed as teachers, schoolgirls and librarians.

Like I said, I'd still take the money, though.

US Education Secretary on NCLB

From this piece from, US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has given the anti-testing crowd two more pieces of ammunition:

1. She just can't be wearing those glasses (see the picture) in 2006, and
2. She can't be serious in saying the law is "99.9% pure...there's not much needed in the way of change.

I've written about the No Child Left Behind Act several times on this blog; any long-time reader knows that I'm an enthusiastic supporter of the law. But let's be honest and say that there's plenty that could be improved about the law. I don't mean major, "let's get rid of it" changes, but I'll agree that the way schools can be labeled as "failing", for instance, is silly and downright counterproductive.

I would rather have this slightly imperfect (but nowhere close to 99.9% pure) law than to go back to where we were before it passed, though. Back then it was too easy to ignore kids who failed; they just failed, that's the way things are, we tried, not our problem any more. Kid doesn't learn English? Keep him in bilingual classes for 12 years, not our problem. Teacher not credentialed to teach the class before her? Not a problem. NCLB has shined the light on major, glaring deficiencies in our country's schools, and states are starting to react. In California, a full 50% of our state budget ($50-60 billion a year) goes to education. I've heard that the feds account for about 7% of California's education spending, or almost $4 billion; isn't it a good thing that Uncle Sam is asking for some accountability for how he spends his money? Is wanting results a bad thing?

In a meeting after school today we were handed a Newsweek article by Anna Quindlen. In it she states that testing doesn't help learning anymore than repeatedly weighing a fat person causes weight loss. Can anything more stupid be written? The point of testing isn't to teach the students, it's to see if they've been taught. Using Quindlen's pathetic example, no one should get his/her cholesterol checked because checking it doesn't lower the cholesterol level (BTW, mine's 117--beat that!).

Obviously I support testing, I support NCLB, and I support Secretary Spellings. But Spellings sure made it more difficult for me with the dumb comment quoted on CNN.

Update, 9/2/06: Here's another fan of NCLB, one with a rather interesting perspective on the law.

Wal*Mart Is (Still) Evil--Even Despite This!

I'm sure that's what the anti-Wal*Mart crowd will say. They may even find a way to spin this as yet another danger that behemoth Wal*Mart poses. What is the Devil Incarnate trying to do? Why, it wants to sell more compact fluorescent lightbulbs, 100 million in all, to start a reduction in America's dependence on fossil fuels.

The bastards!

UN: Self-defense Is *Not* A Right

That's one interpretation of a UN report.

It would make sense, though, since the UN--like every other socialist (controlling) government--wants to remove private ownership of firearms from citizens.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

How Much Blogging Would An Edu-blogger Blog....

Recognize any blogs you've read on this list?

OK, so I'm relatively prolific. I hope that doesn't mean that I'm pumping out quantity at the expense of quality. Recognizing that some of my posts are little more than links to some interesting post or article somewhere else, even I didn't realize I was posting so much compared to some other edu-bloggers--many of whom I read daily!

I find plenty of time to blog, but then again, my social calendar isn't as full as some people's--a fact that no doubt comes as a surprise to many of you =)

I'm A Shoo-in For This Job

Not that I really want to work in the Bay Area, but I think I'd do a bang-up job in this position. What do you think?

More For The Global Warming Crowd

The Boston Globe recently ran a story about "MIT's Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology Richard Lindzen", who doesn't toe the party line when it comes to global warming.

Lindzen acknowledges that global warming is real, and he acknowledges that increased carbon emissions might be causing the warming -- but they also might not.

``We do not understand the natural internal variability of climate change" is one of Lindzen's many heresies, along with such zingers as ``the Arctic was as warm or warmer in 1940," ``the evidence so far suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average," and ``Alpine glaciers have been retreating since the early 19th century, and were advancing for several centuries before that. Since about 1970, many of the glaciers have stopped retreating and some are now advancing again. And, frankly, we don't know why."

This isn't what the environmentalist zealots want to hear, especially from an MIT meteorology professor. And I like the Globe reporter's comment about stifling opposing viewpoints:

He's smart. He's an effective debater. No wonder the Steve Schneiders and Al Gores of the world don't want you to hear from him. It's easier to call someone a shill and accuse him of corruption than to debate him on the merits.

I've said several times on this blog with regards to global warming--the climate has changed several times in recorded history and several more times in pre-history, which we only know about through scientific research. I'm not yet convinced that man is responsible for this current change, or that we can do anything about it other than adapt to it.

If you want me to believe, you must convince me, not call me names until I believe.

Update, 9/3/06: He he:

Climate statistics show that, with all the "global warming" hysteria today, our temperatures are still not as high as they were back in medieval times. Those medieval folks must have been driving a lot of cars and SUVs.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Principal Suspends 128 For Dress Code Violations

I've read about this story on a couple of edu-blogs, and since it touches on a topic near and dear to my heart, I'll address it here too.

Bracing for the attack of all the peace, love, and tie-dye folks, I'll state categorically:

1. No, high school is not the place for you to demonstrate your individuality. It's the place for you to demonstrate your intellect and conformance to societal norms.

2. Yes, having me see your cleavage (girls) or boxers (boys) is sexual harassment, at least according to my district's sexual harassment policy. Don't tell me not to look--don't show it in the first place.

3. If a school isn't going to enforce the dress code it has, it needs to get rid of it. Mr. Chanman of Buckhorn Road (see blogroll at left) likened this to Giuliani's "broken window" theory--if bad guys see broken windows, they'll know that crime is tolerated in the area, and it goes downhill from there. If you have rules you don't enforce, that breeds contempt for all rules--which ones can I get away with breaking, and why those rules but not these? Enforce all of them, as the principal did in the linked story.

4. I don't care if you like the policy or not. I don't like having to drive 40 mph down Auburn Blvd. when it can easily handle traffic at 55 mph, but I don't have much of an argument if I were to get pulled over. Having the discipline to deal with things you don't like to deal with is a sign of maturity.

I think that's enough points. You get my point, and that was the point of writing this pointed post.

Update: Thanks to commenter mrc for pointing out what may have been a Freudian slip in typing!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Teaching in Dante's Inferno

Like every other edu-blogger, I'm linking to this post by Ms. Cornelius. It links specific segments of the high school population (including staff) to their appropriate circle in Hell.

Good stuff!

Union In-fighting in Buffalo, NY

The NEA and AFT-affiliates in New York State are going to merge into one statewide union, but the local union in Buffalo doesn't want to go along. Let's listen in to the August 28th Communique from the EIA (see blogroll at left):

Buffalo Affiliation with NYSUT in Serious Doubt. This Friday, September 1, there will be only one statewide teachers' union in New York, and NEA New York will cease to exist. At that point its largest local, the Buffalo Teachers Federation (BTF) will be in legal and administrative limbo, because it has yet to declare its intentions regarding affiliation with the merged New York State United Teachers (NYSUT).

Negotiations between BTF President Phil Rumore and top officials at NYSUT continued all summer and were largely cordial. In the past few weeks, however, the mood has gotten more and more combative, to the point where Buffalo's affiliation with NYSUT now has to be considered less than a 50-50 proposition.

The issues and personalities defy quick summary, but it is clear that BTF wants more services from the huge, merged NYSUT than it was getting from financial basket case NEA New York. BTF also wants a measure of autonomy when it comes to PAC recommendations and funding.

BTF plans what seems to be a rank-and-file vote for next month on affiliation, but this alone has caused tensions with NYSUT. NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi informed Rumore that the state union would "communicate with your membership" prior to the vote about the advantages of affiliation. Rumore doesn't want NYSUT campaigning for affiliation in Buffalo.

Communications between the two sides have become more and more strained, with NYSUT warning about the "isolation of BTF and its members from the rest of the education union community," and BTF characterizing such statements as "not-so-veiled threats."

Rumore was able to make some veiled threats of his own. In delineating all the services BTF would be able to provide its members if it wasn't sending dues money to NYSUT, AFT and NEA, Rumore noted that his union "would no doubt be able to place $500,000 - $700,000 per year in our reserves for future contingencies." Such "future contingencies," EIA believes, surely include any attempted raiding by NYSUT.

Obviously those folks in Buffalo are pretty smart, as I've been recommending just such an action in my own local union for years. Follow along:

  • 2000 teachers, ~$970 dues/year: $1,940,000
  • Of that almost $2 million, the local union gets to keep only about 20%, or $388,000. The rest is sent to the state and national unions, the CTA and NEA

So, our teachers pay about $97/month each, of which the local union keeps only $19.40 (20%). Why not ditch the state and national unions and become independent? I say, reduce dues to $45/month--teachers automatically save $42/month! That should cover higher gasoline prices.

As an independent, the union would now keep all $45/month, $450/year from each teacher. With 2000 teachers, the union would rake in $900,000/ year, an increase of $512,000. Use that extra half-million to retain the best labor law attorney firm in the county to negotiate raises, handle legal representation for teachers, etc. It's a win-win for the teachers and the local; the only losers are the state and national unions that don't do squat for locals anyway.

I think Buffalo is onto something here. I wish my local union were as creative.

Update, 9/5/06: I'm disappointed.

Girls With The Women Teachers, Boys With The Men Teachers

Joanne (see blogroll at left) reports on a study that analyzed data from 1988 and determines that 8th grade boys perform better with men teachers, and 8th grade girls perform better with women teachers. My experience teaching 8th graders for six years tells me that this study is right on the mark.

Joanne has more tidbits as well as more links.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Clinton Had Bin Laden?

This can't possibly be true, can it?

I recently attended an advance screening of ABC’s outstanding, epic miniseries "The Path to 9/11" (airing this September 10-11), and I came away enormously impressed. Writer/producer Cyrus Nowrasteh ("Into the West"), director David Cunningham ("To End All Wars"), and the whole production team have done a magnificent job in presenting the complex events leading up to 9/11 with accuracy, fairness, and artistry...

Let me start by saying that "The Path to 9/11" is one of the best, most intelligent, most pro-American miniseries I've ever seen on TV, and conservatives should support it and promote it as vigorously as possible.

This is the first Hollywood production I’ve seen that honestly depicts how the Clinton administration repeatedly bungled the capture of Osama Bin Laden. One astonishing sequence in "The Path to 9/11" shows the CIA and the Northern Alliance surrounding Bin Laden’s house in Afghanistan. They're on the verge of capturing Bin Laden, but they need final approval from the Clinton administration in order to go ahead. They phone Clinton, but he and his senior staff refuse to give authorization for the capture of Bin Laden, for fear of political fall-out if the mission should go wrong and civilians are harmed. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger in essence tells the team in Afghanistan that if they want to capture Bin Laden, they'll have to go ahead and do it on their own without any official authorization. That way, their necks will be on the line - and not his. The astonished CIA agent on the ground in Afghanistan repeatedly asks Berger if this is really what the administration wants. Berger refuses to answer, and then finally just hangs up on the agent. The CIA team and the Northern Alliance, just a few feet from capturing Bin Laden, have to abandon the entire mission. Bin Laden and Al Qaeda shortly thereafter bomb the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, killing over 225 men, women, and children, and wounding over 4000. The episode is a perfect example of Clinton-era irresponsibility and incompetence. (boldface mine--Darren)


Update, 9/1/06 3:47 pm: National Review Online has a couple paragraphs to say about the response to this ABC show, one of which I'll copy here:

Apparently, the documentary recounts the bureaucratic bungling and lack of action against al Qaeda that was pervasive prior to the September 11 atrocities. It is by no means, I understand, pro-Bush. It is, instead, an effort to present history accurately. This evidently has many former Clinton officials and apologists in their default kill-the-messenger mode. Great pressure is being brought to bear on ABC and Disney to reopen the editorial process at this late stage (the documentary is supposed to air on September 10-11) so that the years 1993-2001 may remain forever airbrushed.

We'll see what happens, I guess.

Unisex Bathrooms at Elementary School

Via Newsalert (see blogroll at left) comes a link to this treat of a story out of Oakland. I couldn't come up with a title that would convey my horror, disgust, and disappointment at what I read, so I just picked one little tidbit out of the story and hope that will be enough to draw people to this particular post.

Teachers at the private Oakland elementary school have stopped asking the children to line up according to sex when walking to and from class. They now let boys play girls and girls play boys in skits. And there's a unisex bathroom.

I hope I'm wrong, but I think they're really screwing those kids up. Longitudinal study, anyone?

Park Day's gender-neutral metamorphosis happened over the past few years, as applications trickled in for kindergartners who didn't fit on either side of the gender line. One girl enrolled as a boy, and there were other children who didn't dress or act in gender-typical ways. Last year the school hired a consultant to help the staff accommodate these new students.

"We had to ask ourselves, what is gender for young children?" Hodes said. "It's coming up more and more."

And the parents are doing what with these kids?

For some children, it's a passing phase. Some grow up to be heterosexual, some gay. Some children insist they are the opposite sex although they might have a hard time explaining it. One nurse therapist said a boy once told her, "I think I swallowed a girl."

"The point is we don't know the outcome and don't need to know," said Catherine Tuerk, who runs the gender variance outreach program at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., considered a leader in the field.

We don't need to know? Don't need to know??? Oh hell, we experiment on kids here in California all the time--fuzzy math, whole language--without needing to know the potential consequences. Why not let boys think they're girls?

I can already tell you which party they'll vote for in 15 years.

Odiaga speaks from a decade of experience counseling lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens who she says are scarred by early memories -- a daughter forced to dress like a girl or a son whose dad hit him when he refused to play sports.

Wow! Could there be any more stereotypes in that one sentence? Let's make sure I've got that right, now--lesbians don't like to dress "like a girl" and gay boys don't like sports. Got it. Glad I can be so accomodating and respectful of diversity.

But let's get back to the article. It wouldn't be any fun if we didn't throw in something to make religious people look like religious kooks, now, would it?

Gender variance is an especially touchy topic when young children are the subjects. The Traditional Values Coalition calls efforts to accommodate these kids "normalizing the abnormal."

The group's executive director, Andrea Lafferty, said gender variance is a Bay Area phenomenon.

"If you talk to your typical person across America, they would be appalled," she said. "God made us male and female, and God makes no mistakes. To teach a child at an early age self-hatred, and that's what this gender variance is, is very sad."

Then again, sometimes the religious folks make it easy for the left. I mean, seriously. Of course God makes no mistakes. But he allows people to be born with heart defects all the time. That's not a "mistake", that's the reality of the human condition. So is this gender issue, probably, but not to the degree that it's raised to in the Chron article.

Well, there's a lot more in the story, including a tale of a girl who wants to be a boy and is accommodated at school with her own bathroom. Hell, for a private bathroom I could wear a skirt. Probably look good in it, too.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Street Corner Rally in Sacramento

As mentioned on Miller's Time and Buckhorn Road (see blogroll at left for both), there are little street corner rallies periodically here in Sacramento. As a service to you, my readers, I went to the rally and took pictures.

I didn't go undercover, but neither did I wear attire that I would want to wear to such a rally--like my "Imagine No Liberals" t-shirt. I wore a cruise ship t-shirt, jeans, and flip-flops. OK, so the flip-flops put me a little undercover! I carried nothing with me but my camera. I parked about a block away and approached the rally.

I was there for about 40 minutes, by which time I had enough pictures--and had had just plain enough--and came home. Have you ever seen a news report about child pornography, where they blur stuff out but you still know what nastiness is in the picture, and you feel so dirty that you almost need to take a shower? Or has someone near you said something off-color but you didn't speak up, and later you just felt icky for letting them get away with it? Well, then you know how I felt mingling with those people, taking their pictures, and actually talking to them. I don't know if they're fools or demons. Perhaps some are one or the other, some are both--the two categories are not mutually exclusive. I'd make a horrible spy; I could only maintain my facade of neutrality for 40 minutes.

Click on the pictures to get a better view.

Here they are, getting set up on two corners.

There's so much wrong with this sign, starting with the fact that there's never been a Palestinian state to give back land to.

This next picture is not family-friendly at all. But it's out there on the street, in view of anyone who passes by.

The subtlety of a 2x4. And what stake do the Hispanics have in this fight, anyway?

Read the signs. These people are obviously committed to peace. (Actually, they should just be committed.)

It wouldn't be any fun if we didn't somehow equate the Jews or Israelis to Nazis, now, would it? BTW, how do those Israelis hide their cattle cars and concentration camps so well? I've not seen a single picture of either, not even from al-Jazeera or al-Reuters. Heck, I haven't even seen a doctored picture.

Apparently the UN can't please anyone these days.

There's our new hero, the democratically-elected head of Hezbollah! (The democratically-elected part is a joke. Keep looking at the pictures below and you'll get it.)

It wouldn't be a real protest without some 60's reject banging on the bongos (bongoes?) like a chimpanzee, no that ain't workin'. That's the way you do it.... (He wants 60's, I'll throw in some 80's.)

Is the Israeli flag also upside down on this sign, or just the American?

I wonder: Do these kids even know what they're protesting?

Peace in Lebanon. I'm all for it. Get rid of the terrorists who indiscriminantly kill Israelis, and there would be peace.

Can't you just hear the singing? "All we are saaaaaaaayiiiiiiing, is give peace a channnnnnnnnnnnnnce." Rest in Peace, John.

The man in this post carried this banner. He denied being a Muslim, but made sure to let me know that his vast research has proven to him that Hamas and Hezbollah have been mischaracterized as terrorist organizations. In fact, according to him, Hezbollah began as a purely defensive organization that has no interest in one inch of Israeli real estate.

Apparently, the Israeli-Hezbollah war is President Bush's fault, or something.

Do you recognize this flag? It's the flag of Syria. You know, Syria--the good guys.

Don't you just love consistency? Am I the only one that sees the irony of having this banner at this rally? Hezbollah and its leadership were elected by--whom, again?

Feinstein??? The left's best friend, short of Joe Lieberman? Eating their own, and I hope they enjoy the feast.

Guess this guy didn't get the "Respect Democracy" memo (two pictures up).

Ah, a Veteran For Peace. I wonder how this particular veteran would feel if McClellan had won the election of 1864 and sued for peace with the Confederacy, as was his campaign plank. See kids, sometimes peace isn't the best option.

UC Creates History Web Site

From the major Sacramento newspaper:

History buffs, students and teachers: Bookmark this site --

The University of California has downloaded 150,000 historical photographs, documents, political cartoons, works of art, diaries and transcribed oral histories on a new Web site called Calisphere. The site is free and open to the public.

My cursory look is pretty favorable.

Stupid People, or Stupid School Rule?

Joanne Jacobs (see blogroll at left) points out that some Boston schools are now banning--not liquids or gels, like the TSA is now doing, but hooded sweatshirts.

I'm not kidding.

Ex-teacher Gets 15 Years for Aiding Terror Group

Ex-teacher gets 15 years for aiding terror group

By Jerry Seper
August 26, 2006

A federal judge yesterday sentenced a former third-grade teacher at a Muslim school in Maryland to 15 years in prison for providing support to a terrorist organization known as the "Virginia jihad network," which used paintball games to train for a holy war.

American Death Rates in Iraq

The Washington Post seems a bit surprised that the DoD is so forthcoming with an analysis of death rates in Iraq. Here are some interesting points:

The ratio of deaths to person-years, .00392, or 3.92 deaths per 1,000 person-years, is the death rate of military personnel in Iraq.

How does this rate compare with that in other groups? One meaningful comparison is to the civilian population of the United States. That rate was 8.42 per 1,000 in 2003, more than twice that for military personnel in Iraq.

The comparison is imperfect, of course, because a much higher fraction of the American population is elderly and subject to higher death rates from degenerative diseases. The death rate for U.S. men ages 18 to 39 in 2003 was 1.53 per 1,000 -- 39 percent of that of troops in Iraq. But one can also find something equivalent to combat conditions on home soil. The death rate for African American men ages 20 to 34 in Philadelphia was 4.37 per 1,000 in 2002, 11 percent higher than among troops in Iraq. Slightly more than half the Philadelphia deaths were homicides.

The death rate of American troops in Vietnam was 5.6 times that observed in Iraq...

In both the Army and the Marines, enlisted personnel have 40 percent higher mortality than officers. The excess mortality of enlisted soldiers is diminished by the high mortality of the lowest-ranking officers, lieutenants, who are typically the leaders of combat patrols. Lieutenants have the highest mortality of any rank in the Army, 19 percent higher than all Army troops combined...

Hispanics have a death risk about 20 percent higher than non-Hispanics, and blacks have a death risk about 30 to 40 percent lower than that of non-blacks...

The number of wounded in Iraq through March 31, 2006, was 7.5 times the number of dead; the rate at which wounds are incurred was one per 33 troops per year.

Read the whole article for further details.

Wal*Mart and President Bush

Here's a brief quote from the Instapundit (see blogroll at left) that summarizes my feelings exactly:

More on WalMart and its critics, here. I feel about WalMart like I do about Bush -- it's not that I'm crazy about them, it's that their critics just seem crazy, period.


Stupid Teacher, or Stupid Law?

One of my loyal readers--and old army buddies from the Fort Carson days--sent me this link. I'll summarize:

State law prohibits the permanent display of foreign flags in schools.
Teacher displays foreign flags in his classroom.
Teacher doesn't remove foreign flags.
Teacher is placed on paid administrative leave for his refusal.

Teacher is a geography teacher and uses the flags as part of his curriculum. There's no indication that he's making any anti-American or other political statement.

"Under state law, foreign flags can only be in the classroom because it's tied to the curriculum. And the principal looked at the curriculum, talked to the teacher, and found that there was really no curriculum coming up in the next few weeks that supported those flags being in the classroom," said Jeffco Public Schools spokeswoman Lynn Setzer...

"It's much along the lines of a science teacher who puts up a map of the solar system. They may not spend every day and every lesson talking about Mars, but they want the students to see that and to see the patterns of the planets and the order, and the students will observe that and absorb that learning visually," Hamlin said.

So I ask: stupid teacher, or stupid law?

Friday, August 25, 2006

"Single Payer" Health Care

Whenever the issue comes up amongst friends or family, I always urge those I’m speaking with to look north. Take a good, hard look at the Canadian system - a real look - and then come back to me for discussion of “free healthcare for all.”

Even Canadian doctors support private health care.

Lost Comments

I tried to post comments from school (during lunch) today, but apparently our connection wasn't stable and I lost 4 comments. It's unfortunate, too, because two were very detailed comments. One was from a person who discussed teaching English in China, and one was from the mother of the student battalion commander at the Oakland Military Institute! If you happen to notice this, please post your comments again--they were both enlightening!

Mike and Kyla, I got your comments as well!

Oh, and I'm obviously up and running again after 48 hrs.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

DSL Is Out At Home...

...and my ISP, a monopoly, doesn't seem in too big a hurry to get me up and running again. As a result, I definitely won't be posting from home for awhile. And since I'm pretty busy at school....

I'll try to keep the comments updated, and I'll have new posts when I'm back online.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Teaching English In China

I used to wonder why Americans would go to "enemy" countries and teach people to speak our language--so they can spy on us later! I now see that conversational English in China probably isn't enough to significantly harm the Western world, and there's something positive to be said about cultural contacts with actual humans.

I've never really had an interesting in visiting the Far East, except perhaps for Ulan Bator, Mongolia. I don't know why I've always wanted to go to Ulan Bator, except perhaps because the name is cool. But anyway, now I think that China, in its vastness, might be an interesting place to visit. The band from the school at which I teach went on a junket (junket! get it??) to China this summer and was not only well received, but apparently they had a great time. So I've considered teaching English in China for a summer.

The internet search engines will return thousands upon thousands of hits for something like "teach English China". I read dozens of sites. I quickly determined that most places want you to teach for a year, but there are a few that will do a summer. I'm not sure how far I'm going to take this, but it's an interesting thing to consider. I'd like to do a teacher exchange to Britain in a couple years, too--we'll see what happens.

This week's Carnival of Education referred me to this blog post about teaching English in China. Organized, practical, and an easy read. If the topic interests you, start there.

Carnival of Education

There are so many posts in this week's that I just have to read--darn these other bloggers for writing such interesting stuff!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Monday, August 21, 2006

Similarity Between Public Education and Liberalism

Right Wing Nation (see blogroll at left) has such a fantastic post that you're going to want to read the whole thing. What, my recommendation isn't enough to get you to click on that link? Then how about this teaser?

Educration: education + bureaucrat, rhymes with edu-trash-en, The peculiar and surreal ideology of education professionals, the education administration bureaucracy, and teachers' unions. Educration is noted for its singular hostility to reality and facts, and its blind devotion to itself at the cost of students and the quality of education.

It is no accident that the parallels between liberalism and educration are so striking. The two ideologies share so much in the way of initial assumptions, what passes for logic and research, priorities, and outlook that they are nearly synonymous.

Have fun!

Look For The Union Label

I'm going to lift this completely from the EIA (see blogroll at left), because a snip just won't do it justice. The link is here, the August 21st post.
Save the Planet, But Don't Unionize. The world of left-wing advocacy is filled with idealistic young people and hard-working blue-collar folks, more concerned with advancing a cause than making big bucks. This, of course, makes them perfect targets for exploitation by deep-pocketed left-wing advocacy groups.

Yes, I can hear the cries of "Foul, foul!" all across the land, but this is hardly a new phenomenon. In 1997, while campaigning to raise the minimum wage (a project that continues today), ACORN sued to avoid paying California's minimum wage to its own workers.

Last year, Las Vegas Weekly found that the picketers protesting Wal-Mart's substandard wages and working conditions had been hired by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 711. They were non-union, with no benefits, and spent five hours a day in 104 degree temperatures. The workers inside the air-conditioned Wal-Mart make twice as much.

Earlier this year, we learned that several industrial unions were hiring the homeless to walk picket lines. "The fact that the people demonstrating were not members of the union doesn't make much difference," said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. "What matters is that the carpenters working on the building had no health care and no pension."

The latest entry comes from the left-wing monthly In These Times. The Fund for Public Interest Research raises money for a wide variety of liberal causes, from the Sierra Club to the Human Rights Campaign, mostly through the work of canvassers. These young workers either go door-to-door or phone in an effort to get people to donate to whichever liberal group is picking up the tab that day. The Fund boasts of having raised more than $350 million and gathered more than 20 million petition signatures in 20 years.

The canvassers have a high turnover rate, which is unsurprising since they often make less than minimum wage. In Los Angeles, the poor pay and working conditions prompted some canvassers to seek union representation. The response by The Fund was swift: the office was shut down and union supporters were fired. Read the whole story here.


First Day of School

Today's the day the dumplings show up. Here's hoping it goes well!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Meade Telescope

Here's a letter I sent to Meade Instruments Corporation of Irvine, California, maker of the telescope I bought for my son for his birthday earlier this summer. I'm still in shock over the fact that they only provide lenses that cause the image to appear backward in the eyepiece, and that you have to buy an additional lens to get a correct image. And in the DVD that comes with the telescope, they say that this isn't a big deal!

Meade Instruments Corporation
6001 Oak Canyon
Irvine, CA 92618

Dear Ladies/Gentlemen:

It’s difficult to find words to express how disappointed I am with your company. I recently bought a telescope for my son for his 10th birthday, only to find out that the image in the telescope is backward. Try to imagine my shock upon learning, while watching the accompanying DVD, that this isn’t a big deal!

I contacted your customer support personnel by email and received a poorly written response in return that essentially said, “Go to our web site, find an authorized dealer, and order a different lens from them.” Why doesn’t an appropriate lens come with the telescope? Am I cynical to believe that you include the 90 degree lens with your telescopes, but not the 45 degree erect image prism, in order to make an additional $45 in sales when saps like me discover that what they’re viewing is backwards?

Looking at Jupiter and its moons may not require correct imaging, but looking at the moon sure does. And what about more terrestrial viewings?

I’ve already purchased the lens that should come with the telescope. It cost me over $45; it cost you any future purchases from me, because what you’ve done here isn’t right.


No, no information regarding this phenomenon was listed on the box. You have to learn it from either the DVD or by actually looking in the eyepiece. I know that some telescopes present the image upside down--why would anyone tolerate that! Is asking to see a correct, non-inverted image too much to ask?

Laptops and Schools in TX

As coincidence would have it, a few hours after posting about "technology in the classroom" I find a reference to this article in my email inbox. So now we go from my philosophy directly to practical application. Let's see what we can learn.

Irving's Lorenzo de Zavala Middle School and Lively Elementary are rich in technology, equipped with wireless Internet and laptops for students.

But their students also are among the state's neediest, with many poor and learning English as a second language.

Both were recently flagged for poor test scores.

But the technology gods should overcome those hurdles and fix that, right?

Two years later, the extent of academic gains is unclear – though students widely report being more excited about school because of the technology.

"We already know it has an impact on student engagement," said Anita Givens, the Texas Education Agency's senior director for educational technology. "But over time, we'd also like to see an impact on student achievement scores."

What's the point of being excited about school if you're not learning what you're supposed to?

See, I hear this argument made all the time. "If it weren't for football/wrestling/drama/shop/whatever, this kid wouldn't even come to school." But if they're failing every class but football/wrestling/drama/shop/whatever, what good are we doing? We truly need to determine what the mission of a school is, and I don't just mean that b.s. mission statement that we haggle over every couple of years, the one that talks about safe environments and creating lifelong learners and all that unmeasurable fluff. If the school exists to keep kids off the street, then the argument above holds water. If we're supposed to teach them something, then it does not. Seems pretty simple to me.

The study compared math and reading scores of sixth-graders at 22 schools in the Texas Technology Immersion Project with those from 22 schools without the technology. "In fact, students in immersed schools had slightly lower scores than comparison students," the study noted.

Interesting. Needs more study.

"Overall, it's not just how often you use the technology – it's how well you use it," said Kelly Shapley, director of the Texas Center for Educational Research, which conducted the study.

"We did see some significant effects on student technology proficiency and school satisfaction. But it didn't translate into academic achievement in the first year."

Regarding the first sentence--duh. Technology is a tool, nothing more. Regarding the second--let's continue this study and see if there's any improvement. I hope you taught the teachers, and well, how to use these tools, or you'll get no improvement at all.

Students and teachers expressed concern about how distracting they can be during class.

"I play policeman more often than not when my kids are online," a teacher in the survey wrote. "I'm not able to help students because I'm always shutting down instant messaging and e-mail sites."

This doesn't surprise me at all. It might also be a part of why there hasn't been test score improvement; they've made it easier for the students not to pay attention!

And from the mouths of babes we get:

One student suggested using the money spent on laptops on "textbooks and better teachers to raise student's GPAs."

He (or she) said it, not me!

There's plenty more in the article. It's fairly balanced in coverage between pro and con, although to me the cons outweigh the pros. You're free to make your own call, and post your comments on the topic here at Right On The Left Coast.

Technology In Education

People call me a Luddite, but I'm not.

I'm all about the internet and the use of computers. Considering that this post is my 1285th post on this blog, I don't think I can wear the title Luddite very well. A more accurate description for me, at least when it comes to education, is "purist".

Trigonometry doesn't need graphing calculators in order to be taught well. In fact, I assert that requiring students to do the grunt work themselves provides a deeper, "richer" understanding that makes "higher-order thinking" possible. It may even make "lifelong learners"!

OK, enough buzzwords. Put simply, I view technology in the classroom (or anywhere else, for that matter) as a tool, nothing more. It is not an end unto itself, and whenever I see a "technology" strand in some teaching standard (thank God we don't have it in the California math standards) I know that some political button is being pushed somewhere.

All this comes to mind when I read RightWingProf's (see blogroll at left) post about putting multimedia presentations online for college students. It's a very informative read. In it he makes two points that need repeating:

And let's not forget this: If there's no credit attached, students will not do it.


Technology is not pedagogy. Technology is not a substitute for teaching. Technology is merely a tool. Nothing more.

Good thoughts to remember.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Free Speech on College Campuses has an enjoyable if superficial story about free speech on college campuses, a story in which the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) figures prominently.

The Language of the Left

Via RightWingNation (see blogroll at left) comes this link to A Lefty Lexicon, an entertaining (yet sad, because it's true) dictionary of what what lefties really mean when they use certain words. It took me 4 page-clicks to get past the article and to the dictionary but it's well worth it. Here are some sample words and their leftie meanings that RWN used as exemplars, so I'll use the same ones:

Child-centred - education: "we can't be bothered to teach them… perhaps they'll do it themselves".

Critique - media, academia: same as 'rebuttal'. When a Lefty alleges that someone's writing is 'riddled with factual inaccuracies' then mysteriously fails to identify any.

Disproportionate - foreign affairs: Describes any act by USA or Israel.

Diversity – creating a workforce based on how people look rather than on their skills or aptitude

Egalitarian - "if I can't have one, then neither can you". Shared misery much better than unevenly scattered joy.

Fascism/Nazism - apparently the 'opposite' of Socialism – despite sharing party members, ideology and – in National Socialism – the name.

Hate-speech - "shut up!".

Inclusive - Means 'drop entry standards until anyone can get in'.

Impartial - media, BBC: the balance achieved by attacking the Opposition for being Conservative and attacking the Government for being insufficiently Lefty.

Intolerance - Intolerance can only committed against certain defined groups of people. These do not include, Americans, the middle class, white manual workers, rural people, business and Christians obviously.

Islamophobic - anyone who objects to having their transport blown up on the way to work.

Legitimate grievances - foreign affairs: why we're all to blame for deranged Islamists murdering people in the developed world.

Multi-cultural – All culture is valid – unless Western in some way. Usually to be 'celebrated' and always found to be 'vibrant'. See 'diversity'.

Palestinians - archetype 'victims' no matter how many teenagers they murder in bars and fast food outlets. Never responsible for anything they do – or done in their name – because of 'root causes' or 'legitimate grievances'.

Progressive - describes ideas generally thought up around 40 years ago – that still don't work.

South Africa - a national showcase for Lefty policies with a one-party state, some of the worst crime levels in the world, tragic AIDS mortality and declining economy.

Unilateral - media, BBC: used to describe any act by the United States in furtherance of its national interest.

Beautiful! But I just have to add one more:

Hate-crime - same as 'normal' crime as far as victims are concerned - but much more distressing for Lefties.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Serve Your Time *After* Playing Football

KENTON, Ohio (AP) -- A judge decided two high school athletes can complete the football season this fall before they serve 60-day jail sentences for a car crash caused by a decoy deer placed in a country road. Two teens were injured...

Last November, teens stole the decoy from a man's home, created a base to help it stand upright because it had only two legs, and then drove up and down the road, watching as drivers swerved to avoid it, prosecutor Brad Bailey said. He said Howard did not stop the prank.

Robert Roby Jr. crashed his car into a pole and broke his neck, collarbone, arm and leg. His passenger, Dustin Zachariah, suffered brain damage, Bailey said.

Words fail me.

Here's an update.

Back To Work Today

Officially we don't have to go back until tomorrow, but we have to accomplish 18 hrs per school year of staff development outside of school hours, so we knocked out 6 such hours today.

Review of teacher credentialing stuff.

Of course, there's always something you can get out of any presentation. There were a couple small effective teaching techniques--and my students know I'm all about effective teaching techniques!--that the presenter talked about that I could easily adapt for my own classroom.

But honestly, were the few positives I got out of the presentation worth the hours it took for me to get them? It seems an awfully inefficient way to spend time that could have been spent making sure my classroom and presentation are ready for the dumplings to show up on Monday.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Two Stories About Testing

First, has an article which states that support for high school exit exams is waning.

Next, tells us that ACT scores hit their highest level since 1991.

No commentary. Just the links.

Killing Children

In this post about Americans who support terrorists purely because the terrorists are anti-American, one commenter brought up the moral equivalence argument that because we (unintentionally) killed children in Iraq, and the Israelis (unintentionally) killed children in Lebanon, that the US and Israel are guilty of "murder hiding under the guise of liberty and democracy." Obviously I disagree.

Later I read this post. I was going to make it an update to the one linked above but decided it needs to have its own link here. It has the provocative title On The Virtues of Killing Children. Get past the title, and it's very well thought out. Here's a sample:

"If we did not care if their children died," I add, "there would be no reason to clutter military emplacements with their presence. If it were not that we are horrified by the deaths of children, the enemy's children would be clear of all places of battle -- because they are, except for the fact that we love them, a hindrance."

"It must be," I tell her sadly, "Here: That we pursue war without thought of the children. That we do not turn aside from the death of the innocent, but push on to the conclusion, through all fearful fire. If we do that, the[ir] children will lose their value as hostages, and [our children] as targets: if we love them, we must harden our hearts against their loss. Ours and theirs."

"We can only do," I must warn her, and you. "We can only do, and pray, that when we are done we may be forgiven."

As a commenter to my earlier post mentioned, we undoubtedly killed children freeing the French from the Nazis. Whether or not the French have forgiven us I don't know, but it's not the French from whom we should seek our ultimate forgiveness for such horrible and necessary acts.

Carnival of Education

This week's is back home at the EdWonks.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Alleged School Robin Hood Found Not Guilty

From the major Sacramento newspaper:

Former Laguna student innocent in grade-changing case

By Christina Jewett -- Bee Staff Writer

Published 3:38 pm PDT Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A former Laguna Creek High School student was cleared Tuesday of 93 charges of grade changing and five counts of burglary in Sacramento juvenile court, ending more than a year of legal wrangling for 19-year-old college student Alexander Ochoa.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Richard H. Gilmour declared Ochoa's innocence to a crowd of the teen's family, who let out cheers and applause.

Ochoa emerged from the court beaming and hugged his grandmother and other emotional family members.

"I never doubted my innocence - never," Ochoa, a college sophomore, said after the hearing.

Ochoa was accused in the spring of his senior year at Laguna Creek High School of inflating the grades of nearly 40 students. He was expelled from school after the grade-changing incident, but was later exonerated of the charges in a school hearing.

The 19-year-old said he plans to fly to Los Angeles Tuesday night, where he will join the Occidental College football team on its second day of training. Ochoa attended Occidental as a freshman on scholarship and said he plans to study to be a doctor.

Gilmour ruled that the prosecution did not prove Ochoa's guilt in any of the 98 charges. Gilmour said Ochoa's nearly "ironclad" alibis on days of alleged burglaries and grade-changing at the school cast doubt on Ochoa's sole involvement in the case.

He also noted that the three witnesses against Ochoa offered no evidence that he changed grades, and all had lied to officials in the course of the investigation.

Gilmour also noted the testimony of character witnesses in the trial, saying Ochoa was uniformly deemed to be a trustworthy and upstanding person.

Emphasis above is mine. Don't the two boldfaces statements above cry out for further explanation?

But he's been found 'not guilty'. So now we have to ask: who did it? Is it back to square one and start search ing for new criminals, or are the school and district now going to drop it because their case against this former student was so bad?

Pork vs. Entitlements

The graphic pretty much says it all.

Oakland Military Institute

Jerry Brown, former Governor Moonbeam and current mayor of Oakland, California, was able to create the Oakland Military Institute on the site of the former Oakland Army Depot. It started as a military-style junior high, each year adding another grade until now it's a full-fledged secondary school.

And some people don't like it. See, some people don't celebrate enough "diversity" to "tolerate" one military-style school in a city of hundreds of thousands of people.

But for some Oakland residents, the school that supports the young men's dream of becoming officers and gentlemen is an affront to their personal values.

One of the residents most opposed to the presence of a military school in the Oakland is City Council candidate Aimee Allison, a conscientious objector to war who is writing a book, "Army of One," that highlights efforts to counter military recruitment in the nation's high schools.

As a practical matter, Allison believes that for all the school has been given -- nearly $7,400 a year per student -- it has underachieved. Other Oakland public schools receive about the same amount per student...

It's true that the school's academic performance has been average compared with schools of similar size statewide, with similar ethnic makeups and resources, according to the state's academic-performance ranking. The military academy ranked fourth among 21 Oakland middle schools on the state index in 2005.

So it's average across the state, and doing better than the vast majority of Oakland middle schools, and that's not good enough. Hmmm.

Here are Oakland Unified's testing results for this past spring. Here are OMI's results. (You might have to change the district to Oakland Military) Neither is stellar, but if OMI isn't costing any more per student and is getting results at least as good as other schools in the area, what reason other than anti-military bias could there be for wanting to shut it down?

"I'd like to take that level of resources and put it into a school that reflects peace and the things that are important to the people who live here," Allison said.

Well, wait a minute.

For more than 500 families, a school that emphasizes discipline and organization as part of the overall high school experience is an important community resource.

Ah, the truth comes out. And interesting comment by the article's author.

Bruce Holaday, the school's superintendent, said military school certainly isn't for every Oakland student and simply represents another option for Oakland students.

"It's true that one size doesn't fit all, but what we're offering -- habits of good character, looking sharp, being polished, polite and well educated -- a lot of families do appreciate," he said.

Libs certainly don't like "one size fits all" for testing or other programs, why do they want it for public schools? Well, in actuality, they don't.

If this were truly about equity in the distribution of Oakland's schools, why wouldn't Allison raise a flap over Brown's Oakland School for the Arts?

Apparently they only want their sizes. And I'm truly impressed with this reporter for bringing up "the other side" so well in this article. That's not something I expect too much from the Chron. Oh, and go here (county=Alameda, district=Oakland School for the Arts) and check out the School for the Arts' test results, particularly Algebra I :-)

Mayor Brown has some thoughts on the subject.

"This might just be red meat for some of her more extreme acolytes," Brown said. "This is a very high-quality, academic environment, and if people want this choice, why can't they decide for themselves?" he asked. "OMI is a college-prep school that's grown from zero to 500 kids at the same time the public schools are losing 1,500 students a year, and it's unconscionable for an Oakland politician to take away an educational opportunity that parents want."

If Brown were half as good a governor as he is a mayor, California would be much better off.

It goes without saying that I support this school. I support school choice, I support discipline in schools, I support a military lifestyle for those who choose it. It was suggested that I apply for the Commandant position at that school once, so it's quite clear I'm a big fan.

I hope Mayor Brown--and the students and families that make up the Oakland Military Institute--win this one.

This Colonel Is My New Favorite Speaker

LTC White, an infantry battalion commander, gives a great speech to a graduating class of infantrymen, and video of it is excerpted here. There are some classic "army man" lines in it:

"For my money, there are two kinds of men that walk the earth: men of action, and all others."

"To be sitting in the safety of your home, several years into a war, subject to the 24/7 media coverage of that same war and its brutality, and then to go sign up for the Army Infantry, says a lot about a man's character. To stick it out when so many in our society look daily for a reason to quit says a great deal about a man's heart, the support he gets from his family, and his ability to see a larger picture."

"Men, don't ever think for one minute that the kids running around on some university campus, protesting or breaking things, whining about this, that, or the other, have anything on you."

"Your head will not be filled with the empty theory of those who, in actuality, know very little, because they lack the intestinal fortitude to commit to anything that requires risk. I'm speaking of the snide, arrogant sort, who spend the day blaming America for every wrong in the world before going home to sleep at night under that blanket of freedom provided by better men--better men just like you."

"Don't let the pessimistic television talking heads, the highbrow newspaper writers, Hollywood idiots...(I can't understand what he says here)...Blame America First crowd get you down. I'm speaking here of the latte-biscotti crowd. They are simple background shadow men, and they will always exist on the periphery of any endeavor that requires selfless service or loyalty. They are not worthy of your concern. And truth be told, in the pit of their fickle, cowardly hearts, they wish they could be just like you. The intestinal fortitude that is a part of your fabric is something that they covet but will never know."

"I, for one, will never, ever apologize for being an American, and don't you ever feel that you have to."

"We're number 1, don't ever apologize for it, just be damn proud of it."

He gives plenty of reasons why we're number one, but if you believe that you already know what they are and if you don't believe it, no laundry list will convince you.

I would work for this man. I like the way he thinks.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Math In Politics

I was reading this interesting and slightly superficial article about Lieberman's chances of winning in November. To be succinct, the author claims that history is not on Lieberman's side but math is. Blah, we've all heard plenty that Lieberman the Independent stands a chance of winning in November; I wanted to read about the math, which was nothing more than a few statistics.

But I like the way the article ended:

Think of Connecticut's much-ballyhooed Senate race as a face-off between history and math.

Those who ignore the lessons of history may be doomed to repeat them, but analysts who can't add and subtract generally have much more serious problems.

Who can disagree with that last sentence? Let's hear it for arithmetic!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Two Stories About Higher Education

Time says that you don't really need to go to Harvard, and the major Sacramento newspaper reports about American students' attending med school in Cuba (free registration probably required).

Certainly makes for interesting reading on a Sunday morning.

These Are The Type of People We're Fighting

I'm on an emaillist list of graduates of my alma mater, and one graduate currently works for the United Nations. I won't give any identifying information about this person (name, location, hometown) but I trust this person's word without reservation.

Working for the UN, this person takes a lot of flack from our fellow graduates. Here's the person's most recent contribution to our maillist, and I have received permission to reproduce the following paragraph regarding the Global War on Terror (GWOT):

Last week one of our national staff member's sons was kidnapped. This has occurred in the past to other staff members, but after a ransom was paid, the family member was returned. In this instance the terrorist cut this kids fingers off and used a power drill on his head. He did not survive. He was only 18. Please do not jump to conclusions about my stance on the GWOT.

Let every word of that paragraph soak in. I don't think you need my commentary.

But the lefties do. You sicken me. You'll feel bad that this happened to this poor boy, then you'll start excusing it or justifying it. You'll point out how the US military is no better than these terrorists because a few soldiers who are now behind bars took pictures of some some prisoners' wee-wees. You'll scream about the Patriot Act and about the conspiracy that released information about the proposed trans-Atlantic plane attacks just to take away attention from Ned Lamont's victory lap in the Democratic primary in freakin' Connecticut. You're afraid that the NSA's listening to your calls to some 1-900 smut number and wail along with Mama Moonbat about what an evil person George Bush is--and you were probably doing it as this teenager was getting his freakin' fingers cut off and his head drilled into.

You lefties disgust me. You are repulsive.

Update: Did you see pictures like these on the news, or in the newspaper, from this weekend's anti-Israel rallies? I'll bet you didn't. Zombie does great work, go take a look.

Update #2: (You have to read the first several comments to this post to understand what I'm saying here.) I guess this author, for pointing out leftie lies, is also full of "hate".

Update #3: Here is an example of a local supporter of terrorists. I agree with Glenn--if the Jews cut off heads, this publication would be more "sensitive" to them.

Update #4: Not that this means a lot in the grand scheme, but it's nice to know that not everyone in Hollywood is an idiot. But look at the location of the source: Australia. Will we read about this in the US press? I wonder. They sure spend a lot of time and space talking about Rob Reiner, Sean Penn, and Danny Glover, but I doubt this will get much ink.

NICOLE Kidman has made a public stand against terrorism.

The actress, joined by 84 other high-profile Hollywood stars, directors, studio bosses and media moguls, has taken out a powerfully-worded full page advertisement in today's Los Angeles Times newspaper.

It specifically targets "terrorist organisations" such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine.

"We the undersigned are pained and devastated by the civilian casualties in Israel and Lebanon caused by terrorist actions initiated by terrorist organisations such as Hezbollah and Hamas," the ad reads. (emphasis mine--Darren)

"If we do not succeed in stopping terrorism around the world, chaos will rule and innocent people will continue to die.

"We need to support democratic societies and stop terrorism at all costs."

A who's who of Hollywood heavyweights joined Kidman on the ad.

The actors listed included: Michael Douglas, Dennis Hopper, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Danny De Vito, Don Johnson, James Woods, Kelly Preston, Patricia Heaton and William Hurt.

Directors Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Michael Mann, Dick Donner and Sam Raimi also signed their names.

Other Hollywood powerplayers supporting the ad included Sumner Redstone, the chairman and majority owner of Paramount Pictures, and billionaire mogul, Haim Saban.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Minority Racists?

Impossible. I've been told too many times, often in my teacher credentialing classes, that only whites can be racist.

Seriously, people say that with a straight face.

How, then, to explain this story?

Racism a factor in L.A. gang violence

By ANDREW GLAZER, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 40 minutes ago

LOS ANGELES - Alejandro "Bird" Martinez and a crew of fellow gangbangers were joyriding in a stolen van when they came upon a black man parking his car — and decided to kill him.

Three of them riddled Kenneth Kurry Wilson and his Cadillac with bullets from a .357-caliber revolver and a 9 mm semiautomatic and blasts from a 12-gauge shotgun.

This month, Martinez and three other members of the Avenues, a Hispanic gang entrenched in one Los Angeles neighborhood, were convicted of federal hate crimes usually tagged on white supremacists.

Although the slaying was seven years ago, the verdict this month was one in a series of reminders that racially motivated black and Hispanic gang violence is still a Los Angeles reality.

While some police, academics and even gang members insist racism isn't a factor in the violence, a pair of headline-grabbing killings — of a Hispanic teen by a black assailant described by witnesses as yelling a gang name as he fled and a drive-by shooting by a pair of black gunmen who killed three Hispanics — suggest otherwise.