Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Coming Out of the Conservative Closet

Eric hits the nail on the head about conservatives who are expected to stay in the closet around liberals.

You can say that Republicans act the way that Democrats are portrayed in the linked post above, but I don't see it. I've seen too many cases of liberals' letting their emotions carry them away, however.

This excerpt really struck home for me:

While I can't prove my suspicions, I'd even go so far as to speculate that one of the reasons the outing of gay Republicans struck a raw nerve is because so many non-gay Republicans are so used to life in the closet that they were quick to react to the real reason for the outing: what makes gay Republicans so disgraceful is not their homosexuality, but their Republicanism! While Democrats might have missed it, few Republicans missed the fact that they weren't outed merely for being gay.

They were also outed for being Republican.

By the way, the author of that last excerpt? Gay.

And since I'm just not pleased with liberals in general, I'll link to this, too, which shows that conservatives donate more to charities than liberals do. So much for all that compassion.

And how about this one, highlighting the CTA's good friends, International A.N.S.W.E.R.? The answer is "yes", we can question their patriotism.

Kerry Shows His True Colors Again

Watch the video--during which Kerry said nothing about the President--and see if you buy the leftie spin that he was making a (very lame) joke about the President and not, as seems exceedingly likely from the video, about the intelligence level of our service members.

He respects servicemembers? This is the same guy who threw someone else's medals over the White House fence, maligned our soldiers in Vietnam with patently untrue statements, and then stated that Americans in Iraq are terrorizing women and children by bursting into their homes at night? Sorry, F-bomb, I'm not buying it. And these folks aren't, either.

By the way, some stats about the quality of our military members can be found here.

Update, 11/1/06: Apparently, a Democrat congressional candidate in Iowa is sufficiently offended, or at least thinks he can score points by acting offended, that he canceled a campaign appearance with Kerry.

Update #2, 11/1/06: Now Kerry, ostensibly to keep himself from becoming a distraction, has withdrawn from all campaign appearances for this election cycle. His non-apologies (primarily on the Imus show) are pathetic; had he said something like what he's posted on his web site, he might have gotten through this with only a couple cuts and bruises.

BTW, here's the opinion of some of our military personnel. Odd, though, that the weapon in the background appears to be a Soviet-built ZSU-23-4 anti-aircraft gun....


Update #3, 11/4/06: This picture was taken at West Point during last night's pasting of the Army football team by the Air Force football team.

Frat Suspended Over "Insensitive" Party Theme

I don't get this. I really don't.

If you go over the line in making fun of a group of people, then you merit the social opprobrium that comes with that excess. This kind of activity should not merit "official" intervention, to include the requisite tearful apologies and threats of legal action from the NAACP (what laws were broken, again?).

BALTIMORE - Johns Hopkins University has suspended the Sigma Chi fraternity because of a "Halloween in the Hood" party that drew protests by black students.
The invitation to the party, posted on the Web site Facebook, encouraged guests to wear "regional clothing from our locale" with jewelry including "bling bling ice ice, grills" and "hoochie hoops..."

Black Student Union members protested the party on Monday, saying the appearance of the image and the language on the invitation highlighted racial tensions at Hopkins and the strained relations between the university and the surrounding community...

University officials suspended all the fraternity's activities pending a full investigation. President William Brody said in a statement that he was "personally offended" and called the matter "deeply disturbing."

I'll bet that if they threw a Hillbilly Party, or a NASCAR party, or a WASP party--in other words, anything mocking red state voters--they'd be given the prize for most entertaining party.

And if others threw an ordinary party and came dressed the way the Sigma Chi brothers mocked, no one would think anything was peculiar.

I guess some people are more equal than others.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Using Children, and Not In A Good Way

I'm sure my leftie readers will say that the children in this ad are merely enlightened, educated, and ahead of the power curve. Of course, if I put my kid in a commercial and had him say how much he admires President Bush, how he wants terrorists killed, and how our Mid-East wars have been just and necessary, the lefties would say I was brainwashing him.

This ad isn't funny, and it isn't serious. It's perverse.

It's Jihad, Charlie Brown

With apologies to Charles Schulz.

Watch it soon. YouTube has been taking down anything anti-terrorist lately, whilst leaving up terrorist propaganda. And now that it's owned by Google, the same people who assist the Chinese government in censoring the internet, and also provide the free hosting for this blog....

University Blunder

When you reinforce behavior, you get more of it. Even when it's bad behavior.

That's why in general, you don't negotiate with terrorists.

I wrote about Gallaudet University a few weeks ago. Now it seems that the mob has won.

The board of trustees is a bunch of cowards.

Civil Rights, Then and Now

If only all history could be taught as engagingly as this story is told, about the silent lunch counter protests in Wichita, Kansas, in 1958. I encourage my readers to read that story in its entirety, and then explain to me how we live in a "racist" society. Granted, we live in a racially-charged society, but that's far more the fault of the American Left than it is of the right. That story talks about true racism.

This is what I don't understand about the race-mongers of today. How is it the white man's fault that a fourth of young black men in this country are currently involved in the criminal justice system? Was it that way in 1958, when blacks couldn't eat at the same lunch counters or drink from the same drinking fountains in some places? Even given substandard schools back then, were the academic problems of blacks back then as bad as they are now? If schools are helping to create or perpetuate inequities today, is it because of all of those racist white teachers in our classrooms today who obviously don't care about dark-skinned kids?

I don't see it. You can choose to see it that way if you want to, but that doesn't make it fact. And the fact that I don't see it that way doesn't make me "blind to reality". Remember, lefties--to me, it's you who are blind to reality. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's try to have a constructive dialogue on the topic.

To this day I marvel at the events of the Civil Rights Movement. I marvel at the courage and inner strength of people--like the ones in the story above--who stood against injustice. They didn't gather on a street corner with signs and speak vile things about a country that brought their forefathers here in chains; no, they worked with dignity to ensure that the American Dream could truly be open to all.

And too many of their successors today have pissed it away. That's just how I see it.

The Wichita story was "civil rights then", now let's read about "civil rights now". The ACLU has dropped its lawsuit against the Patriot Act. Apparently, they now recognize that the law isn't un-American or unconstitutional. Welcome to club, ACLU.

How our standards have dropped so much since 1958, when people worked towards true justice.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Patriotic Song


Photon Courier has such a great post and YouTube link, I'm going to excerpt his entire short post, then send you there to watch the video.

The only thing I regret is that she's Australian, and not an American. But listen to the lyrics.

Then go read this post from last November. But back to Photon Courier:


...looks and sounds like this:

>video here<
Beccy Cole is an Australian singer who has been criticized for her support of Australian troops serving in Iraq. This song is a response to her critics.

Another Picture of Northern California

Rosspilot, a West Point graduate, does aerial photography for a living. Since he lives in New York, most of his pictures are of that state, but he recently came to California and took this picture of some Napa Valley vineyards--north of San Francisco and west of Sacramento.

Click here to see his full web site. His shots of New York City are amazing.

Teachers Apparently Start Leftist Uprising

From CNN.com:

OAXACA, Mexico (AP) -- Federal police in riot gear and armored cars took up positions on the outskirts of this southern Mexican city on Sunday, as leftist protesters who have taken charge of the streets stood firm at their barricades of tree trunks and hijacked trucks.

Teachers, whose strike over pay raises in May began the uprising in Oaxaca, agreed to go back to work on Monday, and the federal presence appeared designed to bolster law and order ahead of their return. But some strikers and their leftist supporters were outlining plans for street-by-street resistance.

From this article, though, comes the best reason ever for the 2nd Amendment, and it comes from a Mexican housewife. Referring to the Federales:

"They're going to kill us. It's not fair," said Juana Garcia, a 48-year-old housewife. "We can't do anything, we have no weapons."

Gun control advocates, take note. Tyler, take note.

Keeping Kids Safe From Online TUTORS

Joanne (see blogroll at left) has the story about New York City's severing a contract with a Texas company that provides online tutors to students--because the tutors are in India. The tutors have been fingerprinted and the fingerprints sent to the FBI for a background check, but because the Indian tutors don't have social security numbers, the FBI can't run the checks!

That's the excuse NYC is using to get out of this contract. Doesn't matter that the online communications between the tutors and the students--on the other side of the world from each other--are monitored to ensure nothing untoward occurs.

I agree with Joanne: "Perhaps it's not about protecting students from harm."

Apparently, though, the EdWonks (see blogroll at left) disagree--they're siding with the NYC folks. I left a comment on their site, suggesting why I think they might feel that way. Ed has responded.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Standardized Testing Is Not An Impediment to Good Teaching

I, too, have posted (a long time ago!) on Jesness' article about Jaime Escalante, the one linked in this post from Parentalcation. I really like Parentalcation's conclusion:

Jamie Escalante’s whole program was geared around teaching his kids to pass a standardized test. Testing does not and should not be deterrence to outstanding teachers; instead it should serve as a measurement stick for successful teachers to use to judge their performance.

Hear hear!

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Concorde: Airport '79

Gawd, it was painful seeing George Kennedy reduced to talking and acting like a dirty old man--not once, but several times. Ewww.

I'm trying to console myself by saying that the camp value of the movie justified its taking up another two hours of my life, but I'm not sure I even believe that.



I've heard the term "waterboarding" used many times. Some call it torture, some call it coercive interrogation.

Hell, I don't even know what it is.

I've heard that it somehow simulates drowning, or that it makes the detainee feel like he's drowning, but I had no idea what it looks like.

Want to see what it looks like? Here's a video of a former special forces guy volunteering to undergo waterboarding, under the control of two professional interrogators, while the camera rolls.

Decide for yourself. Torture? or just coercive interrogation?

If this unsettles you, and you think it's wrong, do you think your mind would change if it was your family who was threatened, or had been killed, by terrorists?

If you think this isn't a big deal since the individual isn't really drowning, do you think police should be able to interrogate this way?

OK. Now, having seen what waterboarding really entails, decide for yourself if it's a "dunk in the water" and if the Vice President approved of its use in the referenced interview.

To me, this is a clear case of anti-Bush, anti-Cheney, liberal media bias. I'm sure the libs will have no doubt that Cheney was referring specifically and only to waterboarding when he answered the reporter's question about a "dunk in the water".

AFT Says To Give Union-Made Candy for Halloween

Just to show you that I don't disagree with everything a teachers union says, I agree with this recommendation from the American Federation of Teachers:

If you plan to distribute candy to trick-or-treaters this Halloween, show support for union-made products by choosing union-made candy. Union candy suppliers include...Tootsie Roll Industries (Tootsie Roll, Tootsie Pops, Flavor Roll, Frooties, Child s Play, Dots, Andes, Caramel Apple Pops, Charms, Blow Pop, Sugar Daddy, Sugar Babies, Charleston Chew, Fluffy Stuff Cotton Candy, Charms Family Fun, Junior Mints and Cellas.)

Yes, please give out Tootsie Roll products on Halloween. I agree with the AFT 100% on this recommendation.

Info from the EIA (see blogroll at left).

Full disclosure: I own a couple shares of Tootsie Roll and have actually lost money on it. Buy Tootsie Rolls. Help America's teachers--or at least one of them.

Ideological Litmus Tests at Universities

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is on the case of at least two instances of ideological litmus tests used in university programs--and you know those universities are not looking for right-of-center students, either.

FIRE is asking the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take action against political litmus tests in America’s schools of social work. Currently, HHS requires its social workers to have degrees from programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), whose standards require evaluating students on the basis of their beliefs about “social and economic justice.” FIRE urged HHS to end its relationship with CSWE unless CSWE drops these vague and politically loaded standards, a request echoed by the National Association of Scholars and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. more here

And then, of course, there's Columbia Teachers College:

FIRE’s criticism of vague and politically loaded “social justice” requirements at Teachers College, the graduate school of education at Columbia University, has garnered attention in the New York media today. The New York Sun has an article on Teachers College’s policies and an editorial opining that such requirements exemplify how Columbia has forsaken merit for indoctrination. A column by FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff and Robert Shibley also appears in today’s New York Post, explaining that Columbia President Lee Bollinger’s recent affirmations of free speech are inconsistent with Teachers College’s ideological requirements. Stay tuned as FIRE continues to fight this battle for freedom of the mind at Teachers College and at institutions across the country. more here

Lefties will tell you that these examples, like liberal media bias, are just phantoms of the conservative imagination. I'm sure they'd like to think so.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

College and Dollars

From NewsAlert yesterday:

At some point,going to college doesn't pay because the jobs might not be able to pay off the loans.You will not hear this from the powerful education lobby.

From CNN today:

How much is a bachelor's degree worth? About $23,000 a year, the government said in a report released Thursday.

That is the average gap in earnings between adults with bachelor's degrees and those with high school diplomas, according to data from the Census Bureau.

Go figure.

Union Rebate Check

It's amazing what happens when you're compelled to tell the truth.

Last year I wrote a post about receiving my first union rebate check--anyone who's been a reader here for over three days or so knows I'm not a union member anymore. Under California law, though, I'm required to pay the union my "fair share" since they, by law, are still required to represent me before my employer. (I have lots of qualms about that, but this isn't the post for those.)

This year's check was a lot bigger than last year's check. Here's what last year's rebate letter said:

As noted in our prior letter, the rebate percentages are:


In other words, those percentages of the dues I pay to those three labor unions were refunded to me, to the tune of over $300. In other words, well over 1/3 of my union dues were being spent on issues not directly related to collective bargaining and related issues--in other words, all that money was going to politics, and to politics with a severe left-wing bent.

Here's what this year's letter says:

As noted in our prior letter, the rebate percentages are:
NEA - 49.06%
CTA - 46.8%
Local - 46.8%

Those are some pretty significant jumps from last year. Can it all be attributed to the fact that it's an election year? I don't think so. I think part of it can be attributed to the new requirement that unions file form LM-2 with the IRS, which identifies how they're spending their money on politics. It's a lot harder to lie when you have to itemize your expenditures to the feds.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

This Week's Carnival of Education

Tickets are cheap at this carnival.

Another Reason To Know Your Math

Is the proposed tax on cigarettes in Arizona 80 cents per pack, or .80 cents per pack?

The decimal point makes all the difference. Eighty cents would be 4/5 of a dollar, .80 cents would be 4/5 of a cent.


Applied Mathematics

When I majored in applied mathematics, I planned to use that math in a science or engineering field. I never imagined that I'd use it to determine how many terrorists we'd need to kill, or that someone would use it to prove that vampires don't exist.

Math is good stuff.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


While tolerance is certainly a positive virtue that should be strived for, it cannot be a cultural suicide pact.

From an editorial in The Australian.

How To Go Back To Fuzzy Math

Here's the game plan for all those people who think that actually teaching math is racist, imperialistic, paternialistic, etc. Now that we know the game plan, will anyone counter it?

Rough Day At School Today

Today it wasn't the students.

Between a parent, a couple of counselors, and our stupid school schedule (different issues), I have a splitting headache.

Let me whine for a moment about the stupid schedule we use at our school. On Monday and Friday we have a standard 6x1-hr schedule. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we have a 3x2-hr schedule--which means that I have math classes for 2 hrs at a time. Some might think, "Hey, that's great!" NO, it's not. Would you want to sit in a math class for 2 hrs at a time? Yes, I know some college students do it. But I'm not dealing with college students, and I'm not given the latitude that college professors are. Imagine a high school pre-algebra class, students for whom math is already not their best subject (to put it charitably). Imagine how excited they are to be in math class for two hours! I don't teach pre-algebra this year, but neither do I have all "upper level" math courses, either.

So far I've only mentioned Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. What about Thursday, you ask? Well, in our district we have Happy Thursday, where students get out of school about an hour and a half early so that we teachers can have collaboration time.

Let's revisit the schedule, then. On Monday we have 6 1-hr classes, on Tuesday we have 3 2-hr classes, on Wednesday we have a different 3 2-hr classes, on Thursday we have 6 40-min classes, and on Friday we have 6 1-hr classes. So on no two consecutive days do we even have the same schedule. Again, it's not like college--I don't have free time on various days to hold office hours, I'm teaching classes each day. My time is spoken for.

Combine that with the parent/counselor issue from today, and I don't think ibuprofin is enough.


Inconsistency (gasp!) From Someone Who Thinks Gas Taxes Should Be Raised

Thanks to NewsAlert (see blogroll at left) I was alerted to this column from the American Enterprise Institute. The author thinks gas taxes should be raised by a dollar a gallon, with the increased tax money to be spent on a smorgasbord of socialist programs. Here's my favorite reasoning of his, however:

Every time I am stuck in traffic, I wish my fellow motorists would drive less, perhaps by living closer to where they work or by taking public transport.

Do you think, Comrade Mankiw, that your fellow motorists wish the same of you?

Apparently with the Left it's not just "Free speech for me, but not for thee." It's "Everything for me, but not for thee, because I know better than you do what's best for you."

Sunday, October 22, 2006


I went to school in New York and lived for three years in Colorado. I know what it means to live somewhere that has four distinct seasons.

Here in the Central Valley of California, we really only have two seasons. One is The Season Where Rain Is Possible, the other is The Season Where Rain Is Not Likely. Here, rain is possible from about November to about April or May. There's usually one rain about the first week of June, and then we don't see any again until near fall. If I remember correctly, we had rain the last week of May this year, and then not again until a few weeks ago, where one storm dropped about a third of an inch on the capital.

It was beautiful out today, enough to draw a couple of beads of sweat on the forehead while walking about in the sun downtown.

I found some pictures I took of a swollen Sacramento River earlier this year, late in the winter or early in spring, and I thought it would be fun to contrast those views with the views of today, so here goes.

Old Sacramento is the "Gold Rush" part of downtown, on the Sacramento River between the Tower Bridge (to the south) and the I Street Bridge (to the north). It's probably less than a half-mile between the two bridges.

Here's the Tower Bridge in the rainy season:

And here it is today. Sorry the sun is so low in the sky; it was about 3:30.

Here's the depth marker today; compare it to what you can see in the rainy season picture. They're the white markers in the river below the two towers.

Trees across the river in the rainy season:

And that part of the riverbank today (partially blocked by a barge):

Looking north, here's the I Street Bridge in the rainy season:

And today. For perspective, notice the Amtrak train on the lower deck of the bridge and the car on the upper deck:

Now here's something cool. We have two riverboats that take tourists cruising up and down the Sacramento. They can't get under either of the two bridges. The center span of the Tower Bridge rises between the two towers, but the I Street Bridge turns 90 degrees clockwise to let the boats pass.

Here's the Spirit of Sacramento as it goes by the I Street Bridge heading south towards Old Town.

Directly across the river from Old Sacramento is the former Money Store ziggurat. I think the state leases it for office space now.

After passing the ziggurat, the two riverboats have to turn about 160 degrees to the left in the middle of the river, and then "skootch" into their spots at the dock. Here's the Spirit of Sacramento pulling this maneuver.

Right next to the waterfront is the tourist train, decorated at this time of the year as The Ghost Train.

OK, I'd taken more pictures of the water than I'd planned to, so it's time to head back to the car. On the way I stop in at Candy Heaven, where you're always invited to sample the salt water taffy. I like the red licorice, huckleberry, and banana cream pie flavors. But look what I found there on this trip! Did you ever eat these as a kid? I did! I loved opening the end of the package and pouring some out, for some reason.

This isn't the greatest picture, but if I'm going to show you pictures of my hometown, I've got to show you the Capitol. This is the view from the Tower Bridge, with one of Sacramento's men in blue on horseback in the foreground.
By the way, today's October 22nd. Look how the ladies in the crosswalk are dressed.

And for those of you who live in areas already in the throes of autumn, here's a picture showing that most of our trees haven't even started to turn color yet.

I hope you've enjoyed your tour of Old Sacramento. Come back again some time.

California Teachers Empowerment Network

This week the California Teachers Empowerment Network will begin a direct-mailing campaign to inform teachers about its existence. If you'd like to get an introductory email, please click here to contact the organization.

You Get What You Pay For?

Last night at Best Buy I bought a collection of the 4 Airport movies from the 70's: Airport, Airport 75 (the best by far!), Airport 77, and Airport 79. Total price? $15!!!

I think I'll watch Airport 75 tonight. That's the one where the 747 (Columbia 409, if memory serves) gets struck in the flight deck by a private aircraft, killing the captain and first officer. A flight attendant takes over temporarily, but there's no way she can land the crippled aircraft. The powers that be then try to lower Charleton Heston (from a helicopter or another plane, I don't remember which) through the hole in the flight deck into the damaged 747 so he can land it. Now that's drama!

Airport 77 involved a 747 being 200 feet underwater in the Bermuda Triangle. Airport 79 involved the Concorde. As I recall, it was so bad that there were actually two different landings in that movie; apparently they couldn't stretch the story out long enough so that there was only one major plot. Those of you who remember this movie, did you catch my pun? Stretch? Remember, the 2nd time they had to stop the Concorde with huge rubber bands. Get it? Sometimes I slay myself.

Food Stamps For The Amish

I'm not usually a fan of Joseph Farah, for personal reasons I'll keep to myself (but that apply to my occupation, for those of you who will be nosey enough to ask!), but I think he's got it exactly right in this column:

Taylor remains under orders to try to seduce the Amish into dependency on government. His job is to persuade them to take accept money from outside the community, money, the Amish understand, that has been forcibly taken from others – stolen, in other words...

But think about the moral bankruptcy of a system that desperately seeks to entrap an independent people into dependency. I mean, even if you believe in food stamps and other wealth redistribution programs, shouldn't government's primary job be trying to get people off the dole?


Instead of looking at the Amish community as a success story and public assistance as a necessary evil, these Ohio state officials look at self-sufficiency, independence and a good work ethic as diseases that need treatment...

The state requires the counties to lift participation rates. They see communities not accepting food stamps as failure. They've got it exactly backwards, of course. So, poor Taylor plans to resort to small-scale advertising campaigns – maybe billboards – to reach the Amish. He's also going to suggest they use the food stamps to buy seeds and plants for gardens...

You mean people really don't need the government to help them? You mean there are really self-sufficient communities in 21st century America? You mean it's possible to live a good life without national health care? Do they know about this in Washington?

Say it ain't so, Joe.

Hat tip to Mr. Chanman of Buckhorn Road (see blogroll at left).

Some Universities Don't Care about the SAT?

That's what the major Sacramento newspaper reports:

At a college fair this month at the Courtyard Marriott in Sacramento, an uneasy chuckle drifted through the hotel conference room when the issue of SAT scores came up -- or rather, when it didn't come up.

More than 200 students and parents had crowded into seats and lined the walls to hear admissions representatives from Northwestern and Emory universities and two top public schools -- the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina, which are those states' equivalent of University of California, Berkeley. Out-of-state students face intense competition to get in.

When a parent asked the school officials to cite the top admissions factors, the admissions reps generally agreed: Good grades and a compelling essay were key.

The University of Virginia representative teased the audience that it was odd how none of the admissions directors mentioned the dreaded admissions tests.

"It's the least important part," said Lee Morgan of the University of Virginia. "That's why we forget about it."

Parachutist Plummets To Death Off Bridge

You've all seen this bridge before--it's the one on the reverse of the West Virginia quarter from 2005.

Interestingly enough, this happened in front of a large crowd which had gathered for Bridge Day, the topic of one of the designs submitted for the West Virginia quarter.

Are They All As Good-looking As I Am?

LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

BBC Execs Admit They're Biased

Finally, at least people in one news organization can admit it.

Oh wait, several have admitted it before.

But anyway, courtesy of Britain's Daily Mail:

It was the day that a host of BBC executives and star presenters admitted what critics have been telling them for years: the BBC is dominated by trendy, Left-leaning liberals who are biased against Christianity and in favour of multiculturalism.

A leaked account of an 'impartiality summit' called by BBC chairman Michael Grade, is certain to lead to a new row about the BBC and its reporting on key issues, especially concerning Muslims and the war on terror.

It reveals that executives would let the Bible be thrown into a dustbin on a TV comedy show, but not the Koran, and that they would broadcast an interview with Osama Bin Laden if given the opportunity. Further, it discloses that the BBC's 'diversity tsar', wants Muslim women newsreaders to be allowed to wear veils when on air.

At the secret meeting in London last month, which was hosted by veteran broadcaster Sue Lawley, BBC executives admitted the corporation is dominated by homosexuals and people from ethnic minorities, deliberately promotes multiculturalism, is anti-American, anti-countryside and more sensitive to the feelings of Muslims than Christians.

One veteran BBC executive said: 'There was widespread acknowledgement that we may have gone too far in the direction of political correctness.

Reformist Principal Gone, Obstructionist Teacher Reinstated

Who's responsible for running a school, the teachers or the principal?

I know it's heresy for a teacher to say, but I want principals to run a school. If they do something stupid, there are ways to address it. And a good leader will solicit ideas and opinions from his (or her--see the previous blog post, directly below this one) staff anyway. But "The Buck Stops Here", and I want principals to run their schools. Of course, I also want principals held responsible if, while running their schools, they run them into the ground. I don't want a "Dance of the Lemons" for administrators any more than I want one for teachers.

Apparently, my ideal little world would crash head-first into reality in LA Mummified, where the following has happened:

Under intense pressure from the teachers union, Los Angeles Unified School District officials reversed themselves Friday and agreed to reinstate a teacher who was transferred from Crenshaw High for allegedly blocking reform efforts by the school administration.

History teacher Alex Caputo-Pearl had been the union's chapter chairman at Crenshaw until his transfer to Emerson Middle School in late August, just before the start of the school year.

He will return to his old job at Crenshaw High by the beginning of the spring semester in February, if not sooner, according to the agreement worked out between the union and the school district...

Schools Supt. Roy Romer had accused the teacher of driving out a highly regarded principal, Charles Didinger, at a time when Crenshaw was struggling to regain its long-term accreditation.

Didinger had said he left the school primarily for health reasons, but had been worn down by constant haggling with teachers — largely meaning Caputo-Pearl, who represented the teaching staff...

"Through the negotiations, I think the district came to a realization that what they did and the way they went about doing it was less than fair and equitable, and having the district come to that conclusion is a good thing. We are ecstatic," the union president said...

Still, school board member David Tokofsky was hesitant to join the backslapping. He noted that Crenshaw is up for re-accreditation in February after having lost it in 2005. The accreditation was restored last February, but only for one year — essentially putting the school on probation.

The school has a temporary accreditation and, by mutual agreement, this Caputo-Pearl person is allowed to return and continue obstructing needed reforms. Is it any wonder that that district is known as a cesspool in California education circles?

No "Indecent Exposure" For Women in Riverside County

Because a judge is obviously too stupid to know that in formal English, "his" refers to both men and women, a case against a Riverside County woman who "disrobed" in front of a 14 year old boy has been dismissed.

Superior Court Judge Robert W. Armstrong said this week that the law mentions a person who "exposes his person."

"Usually when a section proscribes conduct, it's 'his or her.' This one is not," Armstrong said. "It's gender specific."

Send this judge back to English class. And common sense class, if anyone still teaches that.

What's that rushing sound I hear? Probably all my male students high-tailing it to Riverside County for a cheap peek!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Greenhouses in Gaza

Remember those high-tech greenhouses Israeli settlers built in Gaza, that provided employment for Palestinians and produced an amazing assortment of fruits and vegetables in the midst of barren desert? The ones that rich Westerners (like Bill Gates) bought and presented to the Palestinian Authority when Israel withdrew from Gaza?

Go read this post at Little Green Footballs, complete with Reuters picture, to see these lush gardens.

As I said in this post, these people are barbarians.

Stupid Suspension Rescinded

Joanne (see blogroll at left) has the story of a Concord, CA girl who was suspended for--what? Bringing a knife to school? Bringing a metal fingernail file? Bringing bullets but no firearm to school? Bringing bullets and a firearm to school?

No--for bringing hot sauce to school. Apparently the administrative stupid-pills wore off and the suspension was revoked.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Chicks Can't Do Math

At least, they can't if they're told there are innate biological differences in math ability between men and women, according to Canadian researchers.

Canada Cans Kyoto?

No! Not the pristine Canuckians! Say it ain't so, Joe.

I wonder how the other signatories are doing....

Ed Koch Makes Sense Here

There are those who believe that the Western countries should withdraw from Iraq and that such capitulation will somehow end Islamist terror or at least seriously reduce its intensity in the world outside the Middle East. Can we or should we abandon the Middle East? Should we leave our allies, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia to the tender mercies of Islamic terrorists? There were many before World War II who would have left the Jews, England, France and Russia to fend for themselves in the face of the annihilation sought by Hitler, his Nazi armies, the SS, the Gestapo and the final solution.

As I have repeatedly written, take Islamic radicals at their word -- they want to convert us or kill us.

I wish more Democrats were as clear-headed as Koch.

It's The Economy, Stupid

As someone recently said, that's so 90s. Today the stock market closed above 12,000 for the first time ever--usually we call that a record. Here's a little more information about our economy.

The Cases For US Intervention in Darfur and Iraq

"BUT, and it is a big BUT, I am also just as equally convinced that George Bush would be attacked the minute he put a soldier on the ground by the very humanitarians who are calling him to now act on the implicit premise that since there are no American economic or security interests in Darfur, we therefore should intervene."

More Fun at UC Santa Cruz

I'm all for cutting off all federal money, to include Pell grants, to UC Santa Cruz for its violation of the Solomon Amendment. Its students are nutjobs. (Not you, Spencer, unless you took part in this.)

Free Speech at Marquette University

Somehow, I'm thinking that most of the PhD candidates in the Philosophy Department hallway are not conservatives.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Politics (and a little education)

Four articles from today's major Sacramento newspaper:

Nancy Pelosi and governor-wannabe Phil Angelides work at a phone bank where? Oh yes, the offices of the Sac City Teachers Association, the teachers union for the Sac City Unified School District. Well isn't that special.

Black leaders thought they were going to get to harass the governor, but got really ticked when they only got to harass one of his black senior aides instead. I've met Margaret Fortune (her parents ran my teacher credentialing program, which she was also involved in at the time); she's a good person, an intelligent person, a strong person. If she was reduced to tears by these people, well 1) shame on them, and 2) how belligerent and cruel they had to have been. Why on God's green Earth should the Governor even try to deal with such people? And many of them were ministers? Let them wander in the damned wilderness for 40 years, then maybe they'll learn some of those Christian principles that they should be teaching to others.

In another story we find out why we should shell out 10 billion more dollars to repair schools, even though it seems like we have school bonds on the ballot every 2 years.

And this last story discusses the legal maneuvers of some Republicans who want to have former-governor Moonbeam removed from the ballot for Attorney General because, they say, he doesn't meet the legal requirements to hold the position. Interesting.

My Views on Math--Validated Again

Joanne (see blogroll at left) writes about math achievement, student happiness, and "relevance".

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Apparently It's OK To Shoot Your Principal

Right Wing Nation (see blogroll at left) lets us in on the excuse-making of the left:

Why should we support him? Because in his own way, Eric had the courage to fight back against a school system that psychologically molests us every day, deprives us of autonomy and freedom, runs our spirits through a conveyor belt of discipline and coercion to spit out obedient workers and slaves. Eric followed his heart's fiery anger and struck back with the desperation of caged animal, against the system that confined him and dominated his life.

Right Wing Nation responds to this idiot with appropriate condescension.

I Habla Muy Bueno Es-pan-yole

My current and former students will surely understand the joke in the title (it's kind of an inside joke).

Apparently, some people don't speak foreign languages as well as I do.

Writing About Something Other Than Your Own Feelings

Apparently, the ability of high school students to write about anything other than themselves and their feeeeeeelings is slipping. I don't get the impression that we worry about that so much where I teach--it's a fairly high-performing school--but it's definitely something we should be aware of, like grade inflation and course title inflation.

Will Fitzhugh of the Concord Review wrote about the topic, and EdNews.org carried the column. It's entertaining, informative, and somewhat distressing reading.

In 2005, comedian Stephen Colbert introduced the idea of "truthiness" into the English language. The term characterizes speech or writing that appears to be accurate and serious, but is, in fact, false or comical. In college, I learned that one of the tasks of thought is to help us distinguish appearance from reality. The goal of "truthiness" is to blur that distinction. On satirical news programs, like The Daily Show this dubious practice brings the relief of laughter, but on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning—in which students are told that it's OK to make things up and to invent experts and "quote" them—it just brings confusion, even to the task of writing of "nonfiction." Postmodernists and deconstructionists at the university level have long been claiming that there is no such thing as truth, but here we have high school students being told, on a state assessment, that when writing nonfiction, it is OK just to make things up, for instance to invent an expert, and then "quote" him in support of an argument they are making.

The danger is that practices like these can lead high school students to believe that they don't need to seek information about anything outside of their own feelings and experiences. However, college students are still expected to read nonfiction books, which obviously deal with topics other than their personal lives. Students also have to write research papers in which they must organize their thinking and present material coherently. Too many students are not prepared to do this, and many end up dropping out of college. What a terrible waste of hopes and opportunity!

I'm Not Much of a Car Guy, But...

Who wouldn't do a double-take if an amphibious car drove by--either on the road or on the river?

Liberal Private School Sued By Fellow Libs

Inviting a conservative speaker as part of a distinguished lecture series is one of many complaints about the "hostile work environment" of this hoidy-toidy Seattle school.

Go read the whole thing over at Discriminations, proudly displayed on the blogroll at left.

Schwarzenegger Cowed By Teachers Union?

From the Chron:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed Wednesday to pursue some of the "good ideas" rejected by voters in last year's special election but promised that he will not revive controversial efforts to control union dues or change the state's voter-approved education funding formula.

The "control union dues" initiative that failed last year would have required public employee unions to get members' permission before spending that member's dues on political causes. The teachers union tried to play it as stifling the First Amendment rights of teachers (as a group)--whereas we conservatives, outnumbered here in California, saw it as supporting the First Amendment rights of individual teachers.

Let me say it again: the Left wants rights and privileges for groups, the Right wants them for individuals.

Anyway, looks like the governor isn't interested in getting bruised again. Girlie man.

Superintendent Sounds Like A Grown-up...

...teachers union does not.

We all received the following email from the superintendent this morning:

Good Morning Staff,

I was disappointed to learn that {the district's teachers union} is encouraging their members to boycott the staff forums related to Redesign II. They have also indicated that they are asking teachers to picket today’s staff event. Because I do not want to place staff in the position of crossing a picket line I have decided to cancel the staff forums until further notice. To hold the staff forum today could be terribly divisive to the district, and cause unnecessary hurt and strife...

Who sounds grown-up here, and who sounds like whiny children? I, too, want more of a raise than the district is offering, but this kind of "no!" doesn't strike me as the way to get it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Brain Science and Education

I get a kick out of attending in-services in which some speaker tells me what the latest advances in "brain science" tell me about how I should teach my students. Well, I'd get a kick out of it if I weren't compelled to sit through hours of such drivel, over and over and over again, year after freakin' year. This article kinda explains why:

Educators should be aware that cognitive science--the behavioral science of the mind--is not the same as neuroscience--the biological science of the brain. Most cognitive theories are formulated without regard for how the brain might implement or execute mental processes. Nonetheless these cognitive theories are most useful to educators (Bruer, 1993: McGilly, 1994). When "brain-based" curricula do provide sound advice, they might better be called "mind-based," because they often draw from cognitive rather than brain research. Most ether claims found in the emerging brain and education literature are vague, outdated, metaphorical, or based on misconceptions. This article will address some of those misconceptions.

Might I suggest reading that article to divest yourself of those misconceptions.

Great Quote From An Educator

Do we categorize this prognosticating genius as an educator or a bureaucrat? Via EIA's 10/16 communique:

Quote of the Week. "Although you are always hearing that each up-coming election is 'the most important one in your lifetime,' I believe this one really is." – Maine Education Association President Chris Galgay.

Global Warming and Free Speech

Interesting essay. I suggest reading it.

Barack Obama and the Teachers Unions

The current issue of Time Magazine shows first-term senator Barack Obama along with the subtitle Why Barack Obaba Could Be The Next President.

No doubt the teachers unions love the Illinois senator. But as NewsAlert points out:

No word yet on why Time never has cover stories about first term Republicans as Presidential candidates.Also no word yet on why Barak (sic) Obama doesn't send his kids to public schools. (boldface mine--Darren)

Indeed. The Gores, Clintons, and Kerrys didn't send their kids to public schools, and the teachers unions had multiple orgasms over those Democrats. Sadly, hypocrisy is a strong suit of the American left.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cool Idea Provides Nuclear Energy for Coastal Areas

The Russians want to put two nuclear reactors on a barge and tow it wherever it's needed to provide electricity. It's actually an American idea from the 1970s! Imagine if we'd had a couple of those ready to go off the Gulf Coast after last year's hurricanes....

Principal Shoots Kittens

It's true!

He argues reasonably that they couldn't care for themselves and he put them out of their misery. Others argue reasonably that he shouldn't have killed them, that there are services available to care for strays.

What's unreasonable, though, is the group of people who claim that their children's safety is at risk because of this incident. Fortunately, the people in charge in this situation have all acted reasonably:

John Mastin, acting sheriff in Koochiching County, said Pilloud could be charged with felony possession of a firearm on school property and reckless discharge of a firearm, a misdemeanor.

County Attorney Jennifer Hasbargen said Friday that the case was under review.

Mastin said the shooting put no one in danger but said Pilloud used "poor discretion and poor timing," especially amid the growing fear of gun violence in schools.

The district put Pilloud on administrative leave after the incident. Flynn said Pilloud agreed to an undisclosed settlement and resigned.

By the way, what kind of people name a county "Koochiching"??? =)

(Please, spare me the name-calling. I recognize it's probably American Indian. To my used-to-English ears, it just sounds funny.)

Another School Bans Dances

Quit feigning sex acts, and you can have your school dances. It's truly that simple.

Graphic “freak dancing,” problems with alcohol, and even reports of students stripping off their clothes prompted Principal Patricia Law to cross all up-coming dances off the school calendar.

Good call, Ms. Law.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

November Elections

Glenn of Instapundit (see blogroll at left) says it best:

The GOP richly deserves to lose its majority in Congress. I just wish the Democrats deserved to win one.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Christmas in October! September's California Educator Magazine Arrives

"NCLB Gets an F. Punitive Law Fails To Get Results." So says the front cover of the union rag, and for the umpteenth time, I feel compelled to set the record straight.

But first, let's remember that the National Education Association has spent beaucoup dinero to discredit the law; perhaps CTA is just playing its proper role of lapdog. Now, let's see the intelligence contained within the pages of California Educator:

Page 7:

No Child Left Behind was supposed to close the achievement gap and help every child succeed. But on both fronts, President Bush's 2002 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) has failed abysmally.

In the four years since NCLB went into effect, the gaps between rich and poor, white and nonwhite have actually widened in California, says a report from the Washington-based Education Trust.

NCLB caused this widening? California's STAR testing predates and is more extensive than NCLB requirements. In fact, as far as testing goes, NCLB has next to no impact on California--as I said, we do more testing, more frequently, than NCLB requires, and we've done it since before NCLB became law.

Additionally, the purpose of the test is to ensure students are taught to some recognized standards--standards that the state is supposed to create. The idea is that requiring states to teach everyone to standards, and to ensure that all subgroups of students are taught to standards, will give all students the opportunity to succeed. The testing itself is not designed to help students succeed, it can only measure if they are succeeding. CTA, our students aren't succeeding. That's partially the fault of California's teachers, not NCLB. NCLB is merely pointing it out.

If you keep getting your cholesterol tested and it's high, the problem isn't the test. Frequent cholesterol testing isn't designed to lower your cholesterol. You freakin' idiots.

I didn't read most of this issue--can't stomach it. Still, it's amazing the stupidity I can find with just a cursory glance.

Page 22:

Ultimately, said (CTA President Babs) Kerr, her goal is to send the current governor back to Hollywood and bring back the joy of teaching and learning.

What, and roll back the state testing that has been with us since the days of Governors Wilson and Davis? Those guys predate NCLB. Oh well, as it stands now, Babs is sending your union money to fill the coffers of soon-to-be-losing-governor-candidate Phil Angelides, who trails so far in the polls that his victory dance seems to be only a distant dream.

Page 23:

...Proposition 89 on the November ballot is a poorly crafted initiative that is full of unintended consequences, one of which is possibly silencing California teachers' political voices...

As they'd say in the software business, Babs--that's not a bug, that's a feature! California's teachers should not be another "special interest" of the type their union always decries. The u-bots always say that "the union is nothing more than the members". If that's true, let the members vote individually. The union should only be dealing with the pay, benefits, and working conditions of teachers, not the left-wing political causes of the union higher-ups.

Page 24

Vote NO on Prop. 85

Prop 85 requires parental notification before a minor can have an abortion. Notice it says notification, not necessarily permission. Why does a teachers union have any position on this at all? What interest do teachers have in minors' getting abortions?

Some will trot out the time-worn argument that some parents might hurt their pregnant daughter or put her out on the streets--then what? Yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt. We can't craft laws around what 7 crazy parents in California might do. We need to craft laws that work for the vast majority of Californians, and deal with the outliers as outliers. Why the teachers union would say it wants parents involved in schools, but not in the medical decisions of their children, is a position that I cannot understand.

NEUTRAL on Prop. 88. Parcel Tax Initiative...CTA cannot support Prop. 88 and has taken a neutral position.

Let me get this straight. You can't support a property tax and take no position on it, but you want children to have medical procedures performed without parental knowledge? And you're freakin' teachers? CTA, you disgust me.

Page 27:

"Barring speech simply because it is political speech is prohibited as a content-based restriction," said Judge Winifred Smith when she ruled that the district cannot censor SLTA's political speech. The said the use of school mailboxes for fliers that happen to contain political endorsements does not violate the education code.

The judge added that the school mailbox is a forum open to SLTA because of its status as the exclusive representative. The union's special access to the mailboxes does not extend to third parties.

Welcome to California, folks. This is why California is a "fair share" state and not a "right to work" state--idiot judges that pull decisions out of their rectums that simultaneously grant access to existing unions while denying that same access to anyone outside the unions. Talk about a sweet deal for the union. I wonder how many gift baskets they sent old Winifred.

Page 30:

And many of the new teachers are scared to stick up for their rights.

Might that include the right not to be a union member? Teachers who would prefer not to be union members can get more information on opting out at the web site of the California Teachers Empowerment Network, of which I am a proud member.

The great fun, though, was back on page 24. There were "CTA's Recommendations" for the November 7th election. I notice they don't put a (D) or an (R) by any of the names; I wonder why? Well, let's see. Of the eight statewide offices, I recognize one name as that of a Republican and seven as Democrats. Of the several dozen recommendations for the US House of Representatives, I don't recognize one name as a Republican, but I do recognize 14 as Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Lee (only person to vote against the use of force after September 11th), Henry Waxman, and Maxine Waters. Of the 11 recommendations for State Senate, I recognize 2 Democrats and no Republicans. Out of several dozen recommendations for State Assembly, I recognize 4 Democrats and no Republicans. My guess: the vast majority of those US House and state legislature recommendations are for Democrats. In fact, I dare say that the number of Republicans on that entire list could probably be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Balanced? Reasoned? Or just another special interest group? You decide.

Imagine what else I'd have found if I'd have read all the articles.

Only The Left Is Allowed To Dissent

Peggy Noonan pens a great column for OpinionJournal.com in which she points out, as so many of us have for so long, that the Left stifles the very free speech they claim to promote. How else do you explain so-called "hate speech" as well as the four recent incidents she points out?
They are always saying they want debate, but they don't. They want their vision imposed. They want to win. And if the win doesn't come quickly, they'll rush the stage, curse you out, attempt to intimidate.

And they don't always recognize themselves to be bullying. So full of their righteousness are they that they have lost the ability to judge themselves and their manner.

And all this continues to come more from the left than the right in America.

The column ends thusly:

What is most missing from the left in America is an element of grace--of civic grace, democratic grace, the kind that assumes disagreements are part of the fabric, but we can make the fabric hold together. The Democratic Party hasn't had enough of this kind of thing since Bobby Kennedy died. What also seems missing is the courage to ask a question. Conservatives these days are asking themselves very many questions, but I wonder if the left could tolerate asking itself even a few. Such as: Why are we producing so many adherents who defy the old liberal virtues of free and open inquiry, free and open speech? Why are we producing so many bullies? And dim dullard ones, at that.

You don't have to be intelligent to be a leftie, just overly emotional.

Update: Further commentary on the topic here.

How I Spent My Friday Evening

Since part of my 10-year-old's homework (why elementary students need homework is far beyond me) is to read for 20 minutes each night and write a few sentences summarizing what he's read, I've made reading together an every-evening event. He grabs his book, I grab mine, and we go somewhere in the house--lately it's been the living room--and we read silently. Every once in awhile he'll tell me what's going on in his story, but that's ok. In fact, it's even better.

What am I currently reading, you may ask? Well, I have two teacher's aides. Both are former pre-calculus students of mine from last year, and both are taking AP Calculus this year. It's been a couple of decades since I've been in a calculus class, and when the day comes that they start asking me questions about their homework, I don't want to have to spend 5 minutes reviewing the section they're studying before I'm able to explain to them what's going on.

So I've been studying my calculus book from 1983.

Continuity. Limits. Differentiability. Tonight I even worked some "homework" problems, including finding derivatives of functions directly from the definition. Quite fun, in some respects.

Those students may be my aides, but I'm still a teacher. Their teacher.

Oh, and after reading tonight? Hot tub. Life is good.

Local High School Student Questioned By Secret Service

Your First Amendment rights to self expression apparently don't include making threats against the US President, an offense under federal law. A Sacramento student was pulled out of biology class and questioned about comments and pictures on a Myspace page. Of course, count on the ACLU to say that it wasn't a real threat so it's protected speech under the First Amendment.

At least her parents admit that what the child did was wrong--then they screw it all up by saying the Secret Service overreacted by even interviewing their cherub.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Nobel Committee Has No Credibility At All

Terrorist Yasser Arafat. Accomodationist/Collaborator Jimmy Carter. Liar Rigoberta Menchu. Potentially Cindy Sheehan.

Have these people no decency?

Update, 10/13/06: The fact that they didn't pick Mama Moonbat changes nothing. The fact that she was even considered shows they have no moral compass.

President Hillary Clinton?

If she governs the way she's been talking, the left won't like her very much. Then again, she'll govern however she thinks will be best for Hillary.

Instapundit (see blogroll at left) has two very recent posts:

Hillary isn't necessarily a nutjob when it comes to Iraq

Hillary thinks torture should be safe, legal, and rare

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Affirmative Action For Gays in College Admissions?

In a two-fer tonight, John at Discriminations (see blogroll at left) gets yet another link here at Right On The Left Coast:

I’ve argued here a number of times that many people oppose gay demands for “equal rights” because they saw similar demands from blacks and women, whick they supported, morph into demands for preferential treatment, which they oppose. I’m surprised it took this long to happen, but now affirmative action for gays in college admissions has being seriously proposed at the annual meeting of National Association for College Admission Counseling. And Middlebury College has just begun

giving students who identify themselves as gay in the admissions process an “attribute” — the same flagging of an application that members of ethnic minority groups, athletes, alumni children and others receive, according to Shawn Rae Passalacqua, assistant director of admissions at Middlebury....

Passalacqua said that gay students bring “a unique quality” to the college, which he said tries hard not “to be too homogeneous.”

At least the proposer, Greg McCandless, associate director of admission at Harvey Mudd College, recognized that his proposal was “tricky.” For example, do only gay students who are “out” bring that “unique quality” to campus?

Of course there's more, if you go read it....

Too Many Asians Trying To Get Into College

John at Discriminations (see blogroll at left) calls it as he sees it:

Fearing that a student body is, or is at risk of becoming, “too Asian” is no more (or no less) racist that fearing that it is not black or Latino enough, and the discrimination against Asians that occurs is the inevitable, predictable result of the discrimination in favor of blacks and Latinos.

I'd recommend reading his entire piece.

This Week's Carnival of Education

It's back home here, but will be on the road again next week. My post introducing the California Teachers Empowerment Network is linked.

Columbia University's Teachers College Still Has Ideological Litmus Test For Prospective Teachers

Joanne's (see blogroll at left) got the story, and her commenters do a pretty good job on the follow-up.

One commenter points out that the Teachers College "conceptual framework" is very clear and blunt about what they're looking for:

We see teaching as an ethical and political act.
At least they're honest, but wow.

Another Open Letter In Support of California's K-12 Academic Content Standards

On July 7th, 2006, California's two most recent former governors signed a joint letter in support of California's content standards. On July 21st, I posted about an open letter by California professors in support of the governors' letter and the state's academic content standards.

Here's another link to that letter by the academics. It's got a few new names, some of them very well known and respected in their fields.

Because the school at which I teach is in an upscale area and many students go on to college/university, many of the teachers at my school (especially the old-timers) like to think of our school as a "college prep" school. Yet, at the same time, they deplore the very state standards that all these university professors think are critical for our K-12 students.

Quite the disconnect.

Being Good At Being Bad

I like this observation from a story at Joanne's site (see blogroll at left):

The teachers in both videos were extremely good at what they were doing, which brought home an unsettling realization to me: You can be very good at doing something that is absolutely horrible.

So what was going on that was horrible? Discovery learning, in which teachers spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get students to "discover", or figure out, what it took the best minds the human race has to offer several centuries to figure out.

An in another indictment of ed schools:

Mr. NCTM moved on to the next comment from another woman who in all seriousness and with no sarcasm intended said “The teacher was very good at not answering the students’ questions.” There was unanimous agreement.

The mind boggles.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Universities Revoke Admissions For High Schoolers With "Senioritis"

Posted in the Chron:

High school seniors applying to college this fall had better follow through on academic promises and avoid "senioritis" because more schools are revoking admission for students who slack off.

Colleges and universities from coast to coast are cutting students whose senior grades drop dramatically or who do not complete the rigorous course of study they promised in their application.

California universities have rescinded hundreds of offers for this fall.

I like this comment from a University of Washington official:

"When they say, 'I'm taking a fourth year of language, I'm taking AP (Advanced Placement) this and AP that,' and when you see their final transcripts, it is underwater basket weaving and intro to breathing ... you wonder if you are on the same planet," said Admissions Director Philip Ballinger. "They don't look the same. You were duped."

You don't say.

And if some students think they can safely get away with senioritis, think again:

Although the University of California, California State University and Stanford University have been revoking admissions for decades, they are becoming even more aggressive about demanding that students be ready for college work when they arrive.

"We want the students to be prepared. The biggest reason students fail in college is their preparation in secondary school," said Jim Blackburn, a CSU enrollment director whose 23 campuses have been trying to reduce the number of freshmen needing remedial courses.

I'm against remedial courses at universities. That's what God invented community colleges for. But no one's consulted me on this matter.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Manufacturers Praise John Stossel Regarding Education...

...or the lack thereof for some students!

My blogroll at left includes the blog for the National Association of Manufacturers (ShopFloor.org), a page I visit several times a week. As a former manufacturing manager and projects manager in three small Silicon Valley companies, I'm interested in manufacturing as a field and welcome the views expressed on that blog.

When they write about education, my ears perk up. Two of my three career choices, together in one blog! When they write about John Stossel and his recent issues regarding education, I'm even more interested. They did so recently, and one sentence really caught my eye:

And yes, we know there are plenty of dedicated teachers out there who are quite competent, thank you. But as the biggest end users of the products they crank out, manufacturers have a special concern for the quality of teachers. (boldface mine--Darren)
Manufacturers are the biggest end users of students? I wouldn't have guessed that, as much as we hear about the erosion of our manufacturing base, the outsourcing of jobs, and the primacy of the information economy. Did they make a mistake here, or do they know something that isn't being reported at all?

Either way, they agree with Stossel--go find out why.

North Korea's Nuke

Dictators don't worry about talk talk talk. They use talk talk talk to buy time for themselves. And it's worked, time and time again--this time in Korea.

The reality is that the international nonproliferation regime has failed again, because although people are willing to talk, nobody's willing to actually do anything significant when a country appears close to going nuclear. See also Iran.

Some will blame President Bush for this. I'm sure these same people will now advocate an invasion of Iran.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

How Students Look Today Vs. The 80s

The first inkling I had that the 80s might be returning was last year, when I started seeing a number of boys wearing their hair long and combed (but not quite feathered) back. Some are sporting the Spicoli surfer look. It is my sincere hope that women's hair styles from the early/mid 80s remain in the fashion magazines of the time, as they truly were an abomination!

There's a certain group of people today who have been wearing mullets for some time. They are not the topic of this post.

Last night I had duty/guard/supervision at our school's Homecoming Dance. 80s observation: I saw more pink on the boys (shirts and/or ties) than I did on the girls! Remember wearing pink, guys? Of course you don't! We didn't call it pink back then. We called it salmon. But it was freakin' pink.

Still, no one at school dresses today as nicely as we did in the 80s. When I look in my yearbooks, I see students walking down the hall with their hair looking combed (and there was a lot of it to comb!) and wearing nice-looking clothing. I don't see athletic shorts, sweat pants, or ill-fitting clothes in the pages of my yearbooks. Granted, some of the styles are hideous by today's standards, but at least we looked nice in them at the time. No one would have been ashamed to take us anywhere dressed as we were. I can't imagine the same is true today.

Guarding the back door as I was at the dance last night, I watched how the students were dressed. For the most part, the boys looked nice. Yes, some undid their ties and opened their shirts and walked around looking like scrubs after awhile, but at least they showed up looking nice for the most part. Seriously.

The attire of the girls came in three categories:

The first was ultra-formal. I'm sorry, I just can't take it seriously when I see a 16-year-old in ultra-formal wear. They're kids, and they're only playing dress-up. It doesn't look real at all. And walking through the breezeway between the two gyms wearing a long gown and a wrap is kinda comical.

The second group was the ones who looked exceedingly nice. Their dresses (as opposed to the former group's gowns) were attractive, stylish, and appropriate. Kudos to them for knowing the right mix. Fortunately, this group was the majority.

The third group was dressed as skanks. I know that we had people watching for that at the door, and I assume that at least some students were turned away before they ever got in, but I can only imagine what they were wearing after seeing some of the lingerie that passed for clothing that was allowed inside. Parents, please. She's 16. She doesn't look hot, and you're not going to live vicariously through her. She looks like a skank, and you should be ashamed of yourselves not only for letting her leave her bedroom dressed like that, but also for thinking for even the slightest moment that she looks good or that you're the cool parents for having a daughter who could be compared to Paris Hilton in every possible way except money--and folks, money is Paris Hilton's only admirable quality.

I feel better. I think for this post you can call me Professor von Holier-Than-Thou, or maybe Judgie McJudge. But I had to get it out.

Achieving Standards

I applaud Dan of The Exponential Curve for being honest in answering a question I asked of him. But I encourage you to read his post and see if you share my concern that he's participating in "course title inflation".

I know that this is a touchy subject, and I don't create this post to pick a fight, point fingers, or criticize. My concern is genuine, and I would like other input on the topic. While I won't speak for Dan, I'm sure he would welcome such input as well.

The Result of Progessive "Compassion"

Robert Taylor Homes. AKA "The Projects."

"I saw so many kids get killed, … and I didn’t want that to happen to my child,” Sistrunk says. Four of her 13 children were shot at Taylor. She calmly details the arm and leg wounds they suffered and the exact spot each was injured – the playground, the elevator, the streets. The lesson was clear: No place was safe.

Probably George Bush's fault.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Excellent Commentary on the Recent Events at Columbia University

If you haven't heard, or have been living under a rock (relative to the blogosphere), the leader of the Minuteman Project was to speak at Columbia University--when leftie students created such pandemonium and violence that...well, you get the idea.

RightWingProf (see blogroll at left) says it all. He points out, as we conservatives (and centrists!) often do, that the left has no tolerance for views it doesn't like.

It should surprise nobody that these idiots felt entitled to shut up Gilchrist; it's hardly a secret that "progressives" have no respect for the Constitution or the right of conservatives to speak. It also should surprise nobody that Columbia is reacting as if they disapprove, when they and their left-wing policies are solely to blame for creating this situation. Nor should anyone be surprised that Columbia is trying to white-wash this by calling it a violation of free speech, when it was a physical asssault.

If that is what it means to be progressive, I'm even more proud to be a just-right-of-center moderate.

California Legislature Passes Bill Teachers Unions Don't Like

No word yet on whether Governor Schwarzenegger will sign it. From the major Sacramento newspaper:

Senate Bill 1655 may be the first in the nation to alter union contracts that protect experienced teachers but don't give low-performing schools enough freedom to hire the people they want.

The bill, introduced by state Sen. Jack Scott, D-Pasadena, would help districts snag promising new teachers early in the year. It also would give struggling schools the right to refuse bad teachers whose seniority otherwise might guarantee them a spot on the faculty...

The bill contains the seeds of drastic change. For one, all districts would be allowed to hire new candidates as early as mid-April without considering their seniority.

Currently, many urban districts must give their tenured teachers the first crack at vacancies well into the summer. By that point, many of the best novices have received job offers from suburban districts with less restrictive contracts, proponents say...

The bill also would give principals in very low-performing schools -- schools that are ranked 1, 2 or 3 on the state's 10-point scale -- the ability to turn down teachers who want to transfer from elsewhere in the district....

No analysis exists showing how many districts would be affected. But large, urban districts such as San Diego, Los Angeles and Fresno would see changes in some of the hiring policies spelled out in union contracts, Rhee said.

Locally, both Sacramento City Unified and San Juan Unified school districts have teacher labor contracts providing schools limited choice in hiring, with some priority given to candidates with experience in the district. The bill would allow those provisions to last only until April each year. The legislation would take effect as existing union contracts expire.

It'll be interesting to see if this has any effect at all on student performance at low-performing schools. Regrettably, it may take a few years to generate any data worth analyzing.

This story is over a week old. I guess I've got to navigate a few web sites to find out if it was signed or vetoed.

Sacramento Icon Going Away For Good

So long, Tower Records. You were very good to me during my teenage years.

In the 1940s, Russ Solomon began selling records from the back of his father's drugstore in the Tower Theatre building on Broadway. He opened the first Tower store on Watt Avenue in 1960, and really put Tower on the cultural map when his San Francisco store opened in 1968...

The legendary music retailer, born in the rear of a Sacramento drugstore but brought to its knees by the Internet and discount chains, was sold Friday to a liquidating firm after a court-supervised bankruptcy auction that spilled over two days.

The liquidator, Great American Group of Woodland Hills, agreed to pay about $134.3 million for Tower's inventory, money that will go to Tower's creditors...

Solomon's family still owns 15 percent of Tower but will walk away with nothing from the bankruptcy. Solomon could not be reached for additional comment.

That's the price of progress.