Tuesday, May 31, 2016


This comports with my experience and observation:
After over 25 years of studying and analyzing homework, Harris Coopers’ research demonstrates a clear conclusion: homework wrecks elementary school students. In his book, The Battle over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents, the homework guru gives details about the relationship between homework and success at different grade levels. While homework has a significant benefit at the high school level, the benefit drops off for middle school students and “there’s no benefit at the elementary school level,” agrees Etta Kralovec, an education professor at the University of Arizona.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Until Today I'd Not Heard Of This Test

See any potential for misuse or politicizing in the use of a test like this?
A new test known as edTPA, meant to better gauge if teachers are prepared for the classroom, is still getting mixed reviews, according to a pair of studies out this month.

While many teacher recruits like aspects of the test, for which they have to submit a portfolio that includes lesson plans, student assessments and videos of their teaching, they aren’t totally sold, according to a new study that surveyed teaching candidates in two states, Washington and New York. The states are the first to use the edTPA to decide which teachers can be certified to teach.

At the same time, another study released this month, which focused on Washington, found that higher edTPA scores correlated with higher student reading scores, although good results on the edTPA didn’t correlate to better math scores for kids.

More states will be using the test soon, and “ultimately,” according to the edTPA website, “the long-term expectation is that institutions of higher education, state education boards and professional standards boards throughout the United States will adopt edTPA as a mandatory requirement for the award of an education degree and/or for teacher licensure"...

Researcher Kevin Meuwissen, co-author of the Warner School study, had some words of caution as states consider making the test the main gateway into the teaching profession, saying there could be “problematic consequences that come from using the assessment as a pass/fail screening tool.”

“A lot of the stuff in the edTPA is pretty good,” he said. “The trouble emerges when the assessment is used as a policy tool.”

What Changed?

The Bernie supporters just don't get it:
When the Cold War ended, Colombia was a crime-infested war zone while Venezuela, its neighbor to the east, was an island of sanity and stability. Colombia is now one of the world’s hottest new tourist destinations while Venezuela is on the brink of collapse.

For more than a half-century, Colombia suffered a bewildering multisided conflict that killed more than 200,000 people—the vast majority of them civilians—and displaced roughly five million. It was a no-go zone fractured by a communist insurgency that kidnapped and murdered tens of thousands, right-wing death squads that butchered people with chainsaws, and murderous drug cartels that often wielded more power than the government.

Meanwhile, during most of that period, Venezuela held democratic elections and experienced considerable, if uneven, economic growth. Throughout Latin America, Soviet-backed insurgencies battled it out with military regimes sponsored by the United States, but Cuba’s attempt to foment communist revolution in Venezuela fizzled.

After the Berlin Wall fell, pro-Soviet forces all but evaporated everywhere except in Colombia where the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) swapped Moscow’s largesse with drug money.

If one had to choose where to invest at the time, the smart money would have been on Venezuela. It had a small middle class and a great deal of poverty, but that was hardly unique in South and Central America. What set it apart was its vast oil reserves—more than any other country on earth—and its relative political stability.

The current United Socialist Party government led by Nicolás Maduro, and formerly Hugo Chávez, could have done amazing things for the country with that vast oil wealth. Instead, the party has done its damndest to import Fidel Castro’s Cuban model of socialism— Chávez called Castro his mentor—and turn Venezuela into a totalitarian anthill.

They never quite pulled it off, never quite managed to create a state powerful enough to smother every human being under its weight. Rather than molding Venezuelan society into a Stalinist Borg-hive, both—but Maduro especially—presided over a near-total collapse into anarchy, squalor and crime.

Will This Be On The Test?

Life is a test :)

How Did The Education World Become So Topsy-Turvy?

This just floors me:
A veteran English teacher at Flushing HS says she was so terrified when a student charged at her and threatened to beat her with a heavy cast on his arm that she blurted out in self-defense, “If you hit me, I’ll kill you.”

Now teacher Eileen Ghastin has been yanked from the Queens school pending an investigation into whether she mistreated the out-of-control teen.

“The kid threatened to assault me, and they’re bringing me up on disciplinary charges,” Ghastin told The Post.

What Are We Paying For?

If actual economics mattered to Californians (stem cell proposition, bullet train, $15 minimum wage, etc.) there would be mobs with pitchforks demanding that #22 on this list be shut down so as to stop wasting our tax dollars:
Six-year median salary: $29,900
10-year median salary: $44,600
UC Santa Cruz, the second-oldest school in the UC system, was founded in 1965. Its in-state tuition is $13,397 and its out-of-state tuition is $36,275.
Update: Here's a lighter note.  Kinda.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

29 Years

Yesterday was the 29th anniversary of my class' graduation from West Point.  The time sure flies when you're having fun!

Update:  Some pictures from the time:
click to enlarge

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Almost 3 Hours

What occurred today is one of my favorite events at the end of each school year--Mongo.

For the past several years I've invited my graduating seniors--current students and ones I've had previously--to go to a local Mongolian Barbecue restaurant after finals.  The purpose is to socialize, have a good meal, get to know each other more as "people" than as our assigned roles, and of course to say good-bye.  It's a nice way to end the school year.  It means a lot to me.

Two days ago I stopped by the restaurant and gave them a heads-up that a few dozen of us would be coming today around 2:15.  No problem!  As I arrived today there were already over a dozen students there.  And more arrived.  And more.  Until today the largest group I've ever had was 36; I didn't even count today, but there were well over 50 people.  We almost filled the restaurant at a time when it would normally be almost empty.  Our group was very well received by the staff.

As I was walking out with the last few kids, two more showed up; one had to attend a meeting after school that had just finished.  I went in with them and the three of us had a great talk and meal together.

By the time we left I'd been at the restaurant for a few minutes shy of 3 hours.  I wouldn't have guessed it was that long; they're a good group of seniors, I've developed a genuine affection for them.  They've accomplished about as much as they're going to in high school, and I know it's time for them to go elsewhere and continue to do big things.  But part of me wishes...well, you know.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

It's Not Me, It's The WaPo Saying It

When the Washington Post says something uncomplimentary about a Democrat, you know things are pretty bad:
After early promises to be the most transparent administration in history, this has been one of the most secretive. And in certain ways, one of the most elusive. It’s also been one of the most punitive toward whistleblowers and leakers who want to bring light to wrongdoing they have observed from inside powerful institutions...

Remarkably, Post news reporters haven’t been able to interview the president since late 2009. Think about that. The Post is, after all, perhaps the leading news outlet on national government and politics, with no in-depth, on-the-record access to the president of the United States for almost all of his two terms.

I couldn’t get anyone in the White House press office to address this, despite repeated attempts by phone and email — which possibly proves my point.

But a thorough study from Martha Joynt Kumar, a retired Towson University professor, describes the administration’s strategy. The president does plenty of interviews, she writes — far more than any other president in recent history. But these interviews are tightly controlled and targeted toward specific topics, and, it seems to me, often granted to soft questioners. (All of this is a major shift from a time when news conferences and short question-and-answer sessions allowed reporters to pursue news topics aggressively and in real time.)

More interviews, less accountability. Feet kept safe from the fire.
I can't imagine why they'd be surprised, given everything he kept secret throughout his campaign (and still does to this day).

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Yet Another Reason Not To Support Unions

They are often the biggest bullies I can think of:
Bethany Community Church decided last fall to start a lunch outreach program at several local high schools in Seattle’s Green Lake neighborhood, in an effort to show local teens that there were adults who cared about them. Youth pastor Nick Steinloski explained:
“It’s about connecting kids with adults who care about them. We are not telling them a Bible story before they get pizza.

It takes about 10 minutes to get rid of 40 large pizzas.”
The church had cleared the program with the schools before they began distributing pizza, and they operated in locations just off campus, serving the sophomores, juniors, and seniors who were permitted to leave campus for lunch.

But then the church got a call from a local union, according to Steinloski:
“Last week we got a call from a union. They said we were taking away a job, hours from employees at school in the kitchen because kids weren’t buying lunch.

A union representative left a voice mail on the church’s answering machine saying that handing out free pizza was irresponsible and costing people who serve the food their livelihood, accusing us of doing whatever it took to proselytize to the students.

He said that if we stop serving them pizza, we would start serving them drugs. I felt intimidated by that message.”
Steinloski noted that he felt like the reference to drugs was meant to be a threat that the union would accuse the church of handing out drugs, if they failed to stop handing out pizza.

Dave Westberg, the union’s business manager, admitted that he did call the church, but explained that he had a good reason – the free pizza was a threat to jobs:
“That free pizza is replacing roughly 500 purchased meals each week, and that is equal to 20 labor hours.”
Bullying?  Check.  Entitlement?  Check.  Bad logic?  Check.  Definitely a union operation.

A Tremendous Compliment

After school today there was a note in my mailbox in the office.  I opened it, and it was a letter from one of my graduating seniors.  I've been her math teacher for two of her four high school years.  In addition to telling me how much she enjoyed my classes and the like, she dropped one of the biggest compliments that I could hope to earn: she thanked me for teaching and demonstrating the importance of integrity.

That letter went instantly into my "rainy day folder", which I fortunately haven't needed to look at in quite some time.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Marine Can't Wear Her Uniform To Graduation

The background:
An Illinois high school is facing backlash after refusing to let a U.S. Marine walk at her graduation while wearing her dress blues.

Marine Corps Pvt. Megan Howerton technically graduated from McHenry West High School several months ago, finishing up early so she could attend bootcamp, but she attended Thursday’s ceremony so she could walk with the rest of her class, a local ABC News affiliate reported.

When she arrived at her graduation in full uniform, officials determined she violated the dress code and wouldn’t let her participate without wearing the traditional gown, the station reported.
It shouldn't surprise you to learn that I side with the school on this one.

As a Marine, young Pvt. Howerton should understand the concept of a "uniform"--which, at graduation, means a specific cap and gown.  While her accomplishment in becoming a Marine is certainly one to be lauded, a high school graduation is not the right venue for that.  She wore her Marine uniform at her graduation from boot camp, when and where it was the appropriate uniform.  I don't think the Marine Corps would have approved of a "compromise" to wear her uniform under her cap and gown; I assume that would have been against regulations.

Dressing requirements for graduations are published well in advance of the event; it couldn't have been a surprise to her that she would be expected to wear the appropriate cap and gown.  Absent further information it appears to me that she just wanted to stand out, and that is not what a high school graduation is for.

Single Sex Classes

If the study referenced here is valid, would we in the United States think that single sex classes would be worth the philosophical cost?
Single-sex education improves outcomes for boys and girls, concluding a working paper by economist C. Kirabo Jackson, a Northwestern professor.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

George Orwell, Call Your Office

Despite the evidence:
The Portland Public Schools board voted last week to ban any materials that cast doubt on climate change, the Portland Tribune reported.

According to the resolution passed May 17, the school district must remove any textbooks and other materials that suggest climate change is not occurring or that says human beings are not responsible for it...

A petition, meanwhile, circulated by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM) currently lists nearly 32,000 signers, including 9,000 Ph.D.s, who say, “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”
Read the whole thing here.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Is This How She'd Run The Presidency?

This morning I started receiving emails from Hillary Clinton and her campaign.  Not being interested in participating in this joke, I went to the bottom of the email and clicked on the "unsubscribe" link.  Twice I entered my email address and twice I received a message saying I could not unsubscribe.

Success with Russia. Success with Libya. Success with a Web site.

A couple minutes ago I tried a third time; this time I appear successful.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Candy In The Staff Lounge

It's an open secret at my school that if you want to kill off the staff, just leave poisoned food in the staff lounge.  We're a bunch of chowhounds in there, we eat everything.

Today I saw something new, a small basket of candy:
The wrapper is about 2" long, and the candy is like a fruit rollup.  As I said, in our staff lounge we eat everything, so I tried one.  Not horrible.

Then I turned the wrapper over:
That's right, boys and girls, MADE IN IRAN.

I now see the results of the deal President Obama made with them.  We get candy, they get nukes.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Army Softball

I wish our politicians wanted to win our wars as much as this cadet wanted to score a run in softball.

It's All About The Students, Right?

The SF/California way, ideology over practicality:
Under pressure from the teachers’ union, the San Francisco School Board voted to suspend Teach for America’s contract for the coming school year, writes Tracy Dell’Angela on Education Post.

Who will teach instead?
The 15 San Francisco classrooms that would have been staffed by TFA corps members — yep, only 15 — are now going to be filled by either long-term subs or untrained college grads with emergency certification”....

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I Foresee "Issues"

This isn't quite how I would respond to the "let them use whichever bathroom they want" issue if I were a school administrator:
High schoolers in North Carolina may soon be allowed to carry pepper spray with them, a policy that one board member considers useful for students in light of President Obama’s recent order concerning transgender bathrooms.

The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education ruled in favor of the use of pepper spray on school campuses, beginning in the fall of 2016. However, the board will review this ruling on May 23.

“Depending on how the courts rule on the bathroom issues, it may be a pretty valuable tool to have on the female students if they go to the bathroom, not knowing who may come in,” board member Chuck Hughes told the Salisbury Post, in reference to the lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice following the state’s signing of HB2.

Logarithms, or, It Was A Good Day

A month or so ago, many of my pre-calculus students didn't do so well on a test on logarithms.  At all.  Do you watch Game of Thrones?  Did you see the Red Wedding episode?  Yeah, it was kinda like that.

They're too wedded to their calculators--which didn't help much on the "no calculator allowed" portion of the test.  A couple of weeks ago I put them through my 5-day "logarithm boot camp".  I taught them how to use a logarithm table, and then we get going.  By the 5th day they were smoothly solving problems that, before, they might have been able to solve with a calculator.  I wouldn't say they were solving such problems with ease, as the problems most certainly were not easy, but they were solving them confidently and correctly--and that's plenty good.

Final exams are coming up next week and we're deep into review.  I don't have any logarithm problems on the final exam but don't want to leave the topic out of our course review, so today we played Logarithm Jeopardy.  I had downloaded a PowerPoint of a Jeopardy template, made up categories and questions, and the game was on.

I wish you could have seen them.  I had kids all over the class, working individually or in groups, answering the questions and solving the problems.  Sometimes they'd make mistakes, and that's OK--because as soon as I'd start to explain the answer they'd see their mistake, cut me off, and tell me what their mistake was.  Most of them were getting the answers correct, though.

Confident and correct.  And excited to be answering those questions.  My students were excited to be answering questions about logarithms.

It was a good day.

In Danger of Failing

We're required to notify parents of any senior who may not pass our classes and, hence, is "in danger of failing".  Of my 90 or so seniors, 5 are in danger of failing.

The devil, though, is in the details.  In my statistics classes the final exam counts for 20% of a student's overall grade.  Thus, any student going into the final exam with a grade under 75% has a mathematical possibility of failing.  If I remember correctly, though, 4 of those 5 have grades between 70 and 75%, which means they would have to score less than 20% on the final exam in order to fail the course.

But I still had to send out those emails today, to the dismay of the parent who emailed me back almost immediately.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Individuals my differ on specific points--I disagreed with a couple of Mark Levin's points in The Liberty Amendments, for example--but in general, this is a good starting point for a nation based on conservative principles:
It’s becoming pretty clear that, like their Democrat forefathers, today’s Democrats are convinced that America is entirely too free and that they must take their blue states and secede. We normals no longer meet their high moral standards, what with our insistence on believing in God, having a voice in our governance, and our primitive desire not to have men lurking in women’s restrooms. Plus guns.

Fine. Let them go. Good riddance. We’ll be able to pray and have our voices heard by government even as we continue to embrace anti-#Science concepts like chromosomes determining your sex. Plus guns.

You liberals should take your blue state coastal enclaves and become the United States of Sweden. Just remember that you will have made your Ikea futon and you’ll have to sleep in it.

Here are 11 principles to embrace as we move forward after the blue states leave us.
Of course, #1 is the most important of all; without it, the others are meaningless:
1. We must re-ratify the Constitution, only this time we need to actually mean it. Our Constitution needs to say what it says and not what some Ivy League judge angling for Georgetown cocktail party invitations wishes it says. We will become a beacon of freedom when the blue states’ Supreme Court finds the whole Bill of Rights unconstitutional.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Selling Books To Students

It appears the rules in New York are the same as in California--you can't compel students to buy class materials, even at a loss:
An award-winning Brooklyn English teacher’s decision to provide each of his students with a copy of the Mary Shelley classic “Frankenstein” has thrust him into a real-life horror story.

Todd Friedman, a 29-year public-school veteran who teaches at Midwood High School, was put on administrative duty — and faces possible termination — after the city Department of Education slapped him with disciplinary charges.

His crime: He personally ordered 102 paperback copies of the novel from a publisher last September for his Advanced Placement students.

Friedman, 61, paid for the books out of his own pocket — about $220 with shipping — then sold them to students for $2 apiece to recoup most of the expenses.
What if this is true?
He noted that students spent $6 for “Hamlet” at the school bookstore, triple what he asked to recoup his layout for “Frankenstein.”

“Nobody had an issue with that,” Friedman said. “This has been going on for decades.”
I don't think the guy should be fired, but I'm forced to wonder exactly why students should be paying for books at all at a public school.  If this book is part of the curriculum, why doesn't the school have it?  And if it's not part of the curriculum, why is he teaching it?

There are a lot of questions here, and any sunlight that shines on the problem will be good.

I Couldn't Say It Any Better Myself

From Joanne:
It’s locker rooms. I just can’t see requiring girls to undress and shower with a biological male. I took four years of P.E. in high school (by Illinois state law): I remember how embarrassed girls were to get naked in front of other girls. Don’t non-transgender students have privacy rights? Justice Ruth Ginsberg thinks they do.

While I don’t fear transgender students will molest classmates, I do worry that creepy “cis” guys will see an opportunity to invade locker rooms.

In college dorms, transgender students would have a right “to access housing consistent with their gender identity.” So, your daughter could share a room with a biological male who identifies as female, while your son could be undressing in front of a biological female who identifies as male.

I think many middle-of-the-road voters will share those qualms, question whether shared locker rooms and dorm rooms are a civil right and resent being called bigots.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Today's University Race Problems Were Not Only Predictable But Predicted

The amazing 1969 prophecy that racial preferences would cause the exact grievances of protesters today:
As that essay was going to press, Heterodox Academy member Amy Wax sent us the text of an astonishing letter written in 1969, at the dawn of racial preferences, from Macklin Fleming, Justice of the California Court of Appeal. Judge Fleming had written a personal letter to Louis Pollack, the dean of Yale Law School. Fleming was concerned about the plan Dean Pollack had recently announced under which Yale would essentially implement a racial quota – 10% of each entering class would be composed of black students. To achieve this goal, Yale had just admitted 43 black students, only five of whom had qualified under their normal standards. (The exchange of letters was later made public with the consent of both parties; you can read the full text of both letters here.)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Coins and Star Trek, together in one place:
OTTAWA, ONTARIO, STAR DATE: MAY 12, 2016 - The Royal Canadian Mint, under license by CBS Consumer Products, is set to uncover a new world of collectibles celebrating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek: The Original Series.  The unforgettable characters and imagery of the revolutionary TV show, which has captivated legions of fans in Canada and around the world since 1966, have been captured on a stunning variety of coins devoted to the original series.  
The entire press release is here, and the coins are here.  Should that latter link ever go away, here's a screenshot:
click to enlarge
I'm sure these will be for sale at Vul-con, which I am attending :)

Update:  The US Postal Service is releasing some Star Trek stamps this year but their web site doesn't state when they'll be released or even allow for a pre-order.  They are also releasing a Jaime Escalante stamp!  Both the Star Trek set and the Escalante stamp can be seen here.  Having just ordered my Star Trek coins from the RCM, I'll need these Star Trek stamps, too, as well as an Escalante.

White Privilege

I've long enjoyed Alfonzo Rachel's videos, and this one is no exception:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Two Stories Out of Oregon

We don't need no thought control:
At the University of Oregon, “thought police” step in when one person’s “constitutionally protected speech has offended” another person, writes Robby Soave on Reason‘s Hit & Run. The Bias Response Team, made up of seven administrators, is fond of staging “educational conversations” and is “not shy about referring its cases to university agencies with more robust enforcement powers.”

The BRT’s annual report lists 85 incidents, including a faculty member’s insulting comment on a blog, a poster that “triggered” bad feelings about “body size” and a complaint about a “culturally appropriative” party.
I'm old enough to remember when people went to college to get away from mommy and daddy.  But I digress.

Somehow, given the above, Milo Yiannopoulos was allowed on campus:
Campus was buzzing last night when Milo Yiannopoulos stopped to speak to Eugene residents on his Dangerous Faggot tour.

The event was put on by Oregon’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty Club.  The University of Oregon was prepared for the backlash that the British journalist has been notorious for triggering, but instead the atmosphere was surprisingly receptive – despite his controversial views on feminism, immigration and gun culture.
A couple of snippets:
“The problem is that feminism has left the realm of reason behind and it has become about grievance and victimhood and feelings, ignoring facts, reason logic and everything...

"There is rape on campuses but there is no rape culture. I don’t understand why we’re lying to young girls scaring them for no reason, by scaring them about college. Why? Because with the wide left’s definition of everything we are encouraged to believe – touching your leg constitutes sexual assault.”
It's no wonder lefties don't like him.

The Moral Bankruptcy of the Modern Union Movement

When the only way you can get money is to have the law compel others to give it to you, well...
West Virginia AFL-CIO officials, furious about a new law stopping unions from collecting mandatory fees, announced last week their plan to fight back with a lawsuit.

Earlier this year West Virginia became the 26th state to enact right-to-work, which permits West Virginians in unionized workplaces to opt out of union membership without being required to pay union “fair share” fees.

The West Virginia AFL-CIO intends to argue in court that ending fair share fees violates the state constitution by forcing unions to represent workers who do not pay — a situation resulting from union-negotiated contracts giving unions exclusive representation rights.

Unions have used the same argument against right-to-work laws in Indiana and Wisconsin. The Indiana Supreme Court overruled a lower court decision against right-to-work in 2014.
One of the biggest lies that unions tell is that they're required to represent all workers, even non-members.  It's unions themselves that seek sole representation so that they can then seek to compel non-members to pay.

So, they clearly don't provide a service people want or they wouldn't need the compulsion.  And they lie about it.  These are not the kind of people anyone should want to associate with.

Update:  On the teachers union front, click here to find out what's been going on in Wisconsin since Governor Walker reined in public employee unions:
Merit pay replaced the industrial style step-and-ladder method in which teachers were paid by years on the job and how many – frequently useless – “professional development classes” they took. Using a variety of student achievement metrics, successful teachers across the state were rewarded. Not all districts do it the exact same way, but all center on teacher effectiveness and not the ridiculous union mandated “objective” pay scale. The result has been a big savings for school districts, which they then pass on to their good teachers. What a concept...

One other bonus included in the report: Wisconsin taxpayers have saved $5.24 billion as a result of Act 10.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Gotta try to stay a step ahead of the cheaters:
Glasses with embedded cameras and smartwatches with stored information seem like regular spy equipment for the likes of James Bond, but for three students applying to medical school in Thailand, they were high-technology cheating devices.

Bangkok's Rangsit University canceled its examinations on Saturday and Sunday for admission to its medical and dental faculties following the discovery of the unusual modus operandi by three female students.

While cheating has long been a problem in Thai schools and colleges, the use of high-tech gear — the cameras were used to take pictures of the test sheet and the smartwatches to receive answers from someone outside — has taken the practice to a whole new plane.

"We've never found cheating of this level — involving high-technology," university official Kittisak Tripipatpornchai told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "We've had some cases of students copying from one another, which is quite normal. But now we're going to be paying much closer attention," said Kittisak, the director of academic standards office at the private university.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Shady Persons of Color

How people can think this way--can think that there's such a thing as a "race traitor"--and not have their heads explode, that's one of the marvels of my world:
A group of liberal activists at Claremont McKenna College in California called out minority students and faculty who disagreed with their cause by placing them on a “shady person of color” list, the Claremont Independent reports.

Students involved in racial protests on the campus in November circulated a list of public demands, such as the resignation of the college dean and the creation of a permanent “safe space” on campus.
A private version of this document, however, also includes, for reasons unknown, a list of SPOCs — Shady Persons of Color, a term that was often invoked on campus at the height of the protests — arranged as members of a royal court: King, Queen, Prince, “Ignorant” and Court Jester.
These same people, though, would blow a gasket if you tried to describe their behavior as an attempt to keep these minorities on the plantation.   Don't want anyone getting too uppity, knowwhatimean?

Guilt By Association

My congressman:
The father of Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Sacramento federal court to two felony counts of election fraud involving the finances of his son’s campaign committee.

Babulal Bera admitted in a plea agreement to U. S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley that during his son’s 2010 and 2012 campaigns for Congress he recruited friends, family members, and acquaintances to make contributions to the committee and reimbursed them with his own money.

The agreement says $268,726 was contributed by the straw donors during the two campaigns. All but $5,326 coming directly or indirectly from Babulal Bera was given back to the donors…

With respect to the two elections, “the government has identified over 130 improper campaign contributions involving approximately 90 contributors,” according to the written plea agreement given to Nunley during Tuesday’s hearing by John Vincent, chief of the criminal division of the U. S. attorney’s office.

Monday, May 09, 2016

It Pains Me When I Encounter Such Stupidity

These have been around since 1976.  I know this because I have one postmarked on its release date.  How can any adult, especially one who deals with money on a regular basis, not know about this?  The fact that it happened at a school is just, well, you know:
When an eighth-grader tried to use her $2 bill at middle school school cafeteria she was slapped with a pending investigation.

Denesiah Neal, 14, was accused of third-degree felony counterfeiting after offering the bill at Christ (sic) McAuliffe Middle School.

Thursday, May 05, 2016


Inspired by Joanne a couple months ago, I'm going to endeavor to take a blogging vacation and not post anything here until Monday.  Let's see how well I do.

See you next week!

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Blatant Disrespect

Today is Star Wars Day, May the 4th (be with you).  One of my students today wore a BB-8 shirt, which tells me he's aware of the significance of the date.

This same student however, when I asked him to do something, said, "I'll try."  It's bad enough that he said that at all, but to say it on Star Wars Day?  It's bad enough not to heed the words of Master Yoda, but to do so on Star Wars Day?  That's just offensive.   Master Yoda had strong words on the subject:  "Try not.  Do, or do not.  There is no try."

Kids these days are so disrespectful.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Book Review: Math Education in the US, Still Crazy After All These Years

I just posted the following review on Amazon for Barry Garelick's book Math Education in the US, Still Crazy After All These Years:

A few weeks ago I won this book and the author, whom I know only via blogs, asked me to review it.  Here's my review in a nutshell:  this is exactly the book *I* would write about the current state of math education if I were but as eloquent as Garelick.

His observations are profound, if simple: "In a world where it doesn't matter when you learn something, because you'll get it eventually, there seem to be few if any critical junctures, no mastery of procedure, no building on what you've learned--no learning."  Have you ever been told, "Don't worry if baby doesn't get it (multiplication, fractions, negative numbers) now, he/she'll see it again next year"?  That is exactly what Garelick is talking about.  "Its substance was shallow, memorization was discouraged, students were kept dependent on mental crutches"--if you've heard a teacher say "Just let them use a calculator; the computation isn't what's important here, it's the higher-level thinking and deep understanding that we're after", then Garelick has told you what's really going on.  Are you told that "We don't teach children how to do the problem, we teach them how to think so they can figure out the problem on their own", Garelick again clarifies:  "...constructivism taken to extremes can result in students' not knowing what they have discovered, not knowing how to apply it, or, in the worst case, discovering--and taking ownership of--the wrong answer."

What I enjoyed most of all, though, was Garelick's clarification of ideas I've long had.  Again, I wish I could state my beliefs as clearly as he does.  For example:  "That critical thinking cannot occur without something to think critically about--namely facts--is of little concern to ed school gurus", or his entire discussion of working memory/cognitive load theory.

Garelick has his educational history correct.  He has his assessment of direct instruction vs. constructivism correct.  He has facts and figures and studies, and he quotes top-quality mathematicians.  He knows the education world, and he reveals its dirty little secrets.  He gets cause and effect correct; for example, "For many students, the 'why' of the procedure is easier to navigate once fluency is developed for the particular procedure."  And he adeptly slays the Common Core dragon of writing essays to explain how you got your answer and why it's correct.

I enjoyed this book so much because I share Garelick's fundamental beliefs about math education, where it's been and where it's going.  This is an exceptional book for anyone interested in navigating math education today. 

Monday, May 02, 2016

When Was The Last Time This Happened?

I have nothing to write about or comment on today.  Nada, zilch, nothing.

When have you ever known me not to have a strong enough opinion to write about something?

Are your feet cold?  

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Some May Call It May Day...

Thoughtful people call it Victims of Communism Day.

Over 100 million dead directly due to Communism in the 20th Century.

In the Soviet Union, the cry of "Death to the kulaks!" resulted in over 7 million dead.  The kulaks weren't the only ones to die, though.

Thankfully the Soviet Union doesn't exist anymore.  Here's some of their worthless currency which I have as a souvenir of their fate:
click to enlarge

Do you wonder why I don't think Edward Snowden is a traitor?  Do you wonder why Orwellian government surveillance of citizens is so wrong?  Have you ever seen The Lives of Others, a German film about a Stasi agent who spies on a writer?  Do you remember the Berlin Wall, built not to keep others out but to keep East German citizens in?  Do you remember the night in 1989 when it came down?

Thankfully the German Democratic Republic doesn't exist anymore.  Here's some of their worthless currency which I have as a souvenir of their fate:

Do you remember the Solidarity labor movement in Poland?  Do you remember the declaration of martial law by General Jaruzelski?

Thankfully the communist government in Poland doesn't exist anymore.  Here's some of their worthless currency which I have as a souvenir of their fate:

They treated the proletariat so well, didn't they?

We're not done with Communism yet, however:
How many millions did Mao kill during the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, et. al.?

I don't have currency from North Korea or Cuba, but let's not forget them, either.

Setting aside the people imprisoned, "reeducated", etc., how many people did Communism kill last century?  Just look at the numbers for Stalin and Mao--just those two--and marvel.

So on this date I honor the hundred-plus million people who died because of a sick and perverted ideology.  May we never forget.

Update:  BTW,  with the exception of the Polish note, all of those shown are about the size of Monopoly money.  Just sayin'.