Tuesday, December 31, 2019

We're #1

Heckuva job, California:
As if White Settlement didn’t do enough to undermine gun control’s arguments all on its own, there’s another bit of information that shows us just how useless gun control really is.

You see, the big argument is that gun control is needed to prevent mass shootings. While White Settlement showed us the wisdom of law-abiding armed citizens in a place, anti-gunners are still pushing forward with their claim that we need gun control to prevent things like that from happening at all.

Of course, if that were true, California would have fewer mass shootings than anywhere else. However, they actually led the nation in 2019... (boldface mine--Darren)

California’s mass killing problem–not all were shootings, to be fair, and many are probably more gang-related than anything else–should serve as ample evidence that the problem isn’t guns.

Anti-gun voices will automatically jump to the claim that California’s problems stem from pro-gun states where firearms are obtained and smuggled into California. Of course, this line of reasoning never explains why those states don’t reach that level of violence themselves. Funny how that shakes out, isn’t it?

Starting My 7th Decade

I was born in the 1960s.  That makes the 2020s, which start tomorrow, the 7th decade in which I'll have lived.  My high school students will be starting the 3rd decade (!!!) in which they'll have lived.  When I put it that way, the impact of such information is much less overwhelming.

They Almost Got It

The Los Angeles Times recently published an opinion piece blaming the US's low ranking on international academic tests on--you guessed it!--poverty:
But if Finland, Singapore and South Korea are all doing better than we are, that suggests there may be a factor at play other than how we teach. And indeed there is something that all three of these nations, and every other country that outranks the United States on the PISA test, have in common: lower rates of child poverty. And poverty is a major factor in how well students perform on the tests...

A 2013 study by Stanford University researchers found that the U.S. would rank much higher on the PISA test if it weren’t for its higher levels of socioeconomic inequality.

“Because in every country, students at the bottom of the social class distribution perform worse than students higher in that distribution, U.S. average performance appears to be relatively low partly because we have so many more test takers from the bottom of the social class distribution,” the study concluded...
There is something different between the US and those other countries, but will the author figure it out?  Will the author's ideological blinders allow him/her/them to see it?
This is not to let the education system off the hook. One way in which poverty affects educational attainment is that low-income students tend to attend schools with fewer resources and lower expectations. And there are countries where the poorest students fare better than that same group in the United States.
Ah, swing and a miss!  Why are there "countries where the poorest students fare better than that same group in the United States", one might ask?  The answer is simple, and if you've read this blog for any length of time you know what I'm going to tell you that answer is.

One word:  culture.

Monday, December 30, 2019

What Should I Do With This Information?

If your article is going to describe personality factors, shouldn't it also tell you how to interact with people with different personality factors than your own?  I finished this article thinking, "What should I do with this information?"
Most modern-day psychologists agree there are five major personality types. Referred to as the "five factor model," everyone possesses some degree of each.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Some Might Call Us Hoarders

My dad's parents were teenagers during the Great Depression.  They met and got married during World War 2.  Since grandpa was an NCO in the Army Air Forces/US Air Force, they were far from wealthy.  They learned how to "make do".

Grandpa kept anything that might someday be somehow useful.  My dad does the same thing.  Can't throw that away, I might need that some day!  I do the same thing, albeit to a lesser degree than the two of them.

Tonight, though--tonight I made myself worthy of the family name!

In a couple days it will be time to filter and bottle Quattro, my fourth batch of homemade limoncello.  Primero and Due were both 100 proof, but I made those with 151 proof Everclear as a base, and getting the final product to 100 proof was very easy.  Tre and Quattro used 190 proof Everclear as a base,  and Tre ended up about 126 proof because I didn't adjust the recipe to account for the stronger Everclear.  Tre was a bit too strong, though, so I adjusted the recipe so that Quattro should be 100 proof.

My limoncello takes 90 days to make, and Tuesday is the 90th day--time to start filtering and bottling.  I have to filter out all the lemon zest that's been soaking for all that time!  For the first 3 batches I used a coffee filter and a pasta strainer, but the process was slow, inconvenient, and messy (the bottom of the strainer was bigger than the opening of my gallon-plus Mason "soaking jars", causing much waste).  I toyed with the idea of making some sort of custom filtering device that would fit the Mason jars exactly, but that's a little beyond my capabilities.  I don't have a press or milling machine!

I do, however, have a plastic peanut jar and a gallon milk jug that I haven't taken out to the recycling can yet.  I was toying with how I might cut, puncture and modify these to better serve my filtering purposes, but then an idea came into my head.

I have a plastic (former) soup container in my cupboard.  It's a nifty size, I couldn't just throw it away, I might need it to transport some liquid or something some day!  So it's been in my cupboard for years now.  Literally, years.  Just taking up space.

I thought, I should use that soup container!  I don't need the lid--toss it!--but I could puncture the bottom of the container, put the paper coffee filter inside the container, and pour the limoncello with lemon zest into this jerry-rigged filter--all I'd need was a way to keep this container over the opening in my second gallon-plus Mason jar.  If I solve that problem, my filtering and bottling process becomes significantly easier.

So I pulled the secondary Mason jar out of the closet and got the plastic soup container out of the cupboard.  As luck would have it, the bottom 3/4 inch or so of the soup container fits inside the opening of the soaking jar--it'll just sit there, wedged in!  All I have to do is put some holes in the bottom of that container and put in the paper coffee filter and I have a flawless (and efficient!) filtering system!

My grandfather and dad were very creative, resourceful men.  When I even get in the same ball park as those two, I feel pretty darn good about myself.

And it all happened because I didn't throw away a plastic soup container years ago.

Where Might Ed Reform Turn Now?

Forbes has an interesting piece on ed reform, where we've been and where we might be going:
Have the past ten years been a “lost decade” for education reform? Or is the focus finally shifting to something that might actually work?

Ten years ago, reformers were confident they were on the brink of fixing the U.S. education system—especially for the most disadvantaged students. As a neophyte in the movement, I often heard some version of “We know what works.” The agenda included:

· Replacing bad teachers with “rock stars;”

· Creating schools—outside the traditional system, if need be—where there was order instead of chaos;

· Focusing relentlessly on reading and math skills;

· Relying on data from frequently administered tests in those subjects to guide instruction; and

· Using end-of-the-year test scores to determine which schools were providing a high-quality education.

All this plus the Common Core standards, released in 2010, was to usher in an era where all teachers and students would be held to high expectations, backed up by rigorous tests. A child’s zip code, as the saying went, would no longer determine her destiny.

None of this worked...

Now that the decade is coming to a close, there’s a small flurry of retrospection. One conservative commentator, calling the 2010s “ed reform’s lost decade,” advises those aiming to reduce poverty to focus instead on initiatives like “incentivizing work.” A progressive responds that he sees “a lot of good things happening” in ed reform, but they’re modest compared to the hopes of a decade ago (for example: U.S. test scores at least remained stagnant while some other countries’ declined). They and others argue we need more school choice. Still others, including Democrats competing for the presidential nomination, blame too much choice for our lack of progress—along with low teacher salaries, poverty, and racism.

At the same time, there’s a development in the education world that has gotten relatively little attention and seems to belong to another universe. It’s not about school choice or teacher quality or any of the other things that have dominated the public conversation. Instead, it’s about what gets taught in classrooms and how—a subject in which reformers have shown surprisingly little interest.

The huge and largely unreported story is that American educators are trained to believe in ideas and methods that have little or no evidence behind them—and often conflict with what scientists have discovered about the learning process. Classroom materials rest on similarly flawed assumptions. The disjunction between evidence and practice makes it unnecessarily difficult for teachers to do their jobs and for all but the ablest and most advantaged students to learn. The glimmer of hope is that a growing number of teachers—along with some administrators, policymakers, philanthropists, and parents—are beginning to push for change.

The leading edge of this movement has focused on reading, and primarily on the aspect of reading commonly known as phonics. That’s understandable. The debate over phonics has been around for a long time, and it may be easier for people to wrap their minds around it—although it’s also easy for them to dismiss it. Many teachers believe they’re already teaching phonics when in fact, because of deficiencies in their training, they’re not...

Teacher-training programs promote the idea that education is ideally a natural process in which students discover or “construct” knowledge for themselves. “Teacher talk,” therefore, should be kept to a minimum, and group work or inquiry-based learning should be maximized. Under this theory, if teachers provide comprehension “skills,” they don’t need to build knowledge; kids can eventually use their “skills” to do that through their own reading. But cognitive scientists have found that when learners don’t know much about a topic, it’s far more effective for an expert to explain it and guide discussion than for them to try to figure it out on their own. Similarly, if you know nothing about chemistry or biology, you’re going to have a hard time acquiring knowledge from reading an article on DNA, no matter how many times you’ve practiced “finding the main idea.”

The sad truth is that in their well-intentioned zeal for “data,” reformers have only made this problem worse.
Go read the whole thing. Seriously.  And then think, what is the problem in math?

Temporary New Digs

While Joanne is vacationing and visiting family in Europe, I'll be housesitting over at her blog.  (And even when I'm not, she should be on your "daily read" list anyway!)

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Happy Hanukkah?

I recall two references to Christianity in the original series Star Trek (Uhura's "Son" worshippers vs "sun" worshippers, and Kirk's “Mankind has no need for gods. We find the one quite adequate.”)  In my favorite episode, Balance of Terror, a (nondenominational) chapel was shown on Enterprise.

While I don't recall any reference to Judaism in the show, I have to believe there were Jews on the Enterprise.  After all, Jews have survived as a people for thousands of years, so they'll certainly be around a few hundred years from now!  And mathematically speaking you'd think there would be at least a couple in a crew of over 400.

So, would a Jewish crewman have one of these?
Yes, I think so.

Another Reason To Miss School

Students should be in school.  It's only 180 or so days a year.

We have plenty of excused absences from school--illness, doctor/dentist appts, family funerals, court appointments, school activities, and plenty others--but one district in Virginia is adding a new excused absence:  protests:
One of the largest school districts in the United States has announced that it will allow students one excused absence per school year to participate civic activities such as protests.

Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia plans to start allowing the absences Jan. 27, 2020, news outlets reported. The district is the largest school system in the state.

Students in seventh through 12th grades can use the day for “civic engagement activities” such as attending marches or meeting with lawmakers, according to district spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell.
This entire country just made 21 the minimum age for buying tobacco or vaping products.  Voting waits until 18, and driving until 16.  You can be a child until age 26 and stay on your parents' health insurance.

But at 12 you can go protest.

I understand that teenagers can be very passionate about their beliefs.  I also know that most of them lack a true critical thinking ability--just read some of their essays--and many couldn't find their butts with both hands in a well-lit room.  That's why they should be in school.
 “Skipping school and business as usual is to show that there's no point in going to school if we are having our future taken away from us,” she said. “There's not a point to our education if we're not going to be alive in 10 years, 20 years, the end of the century.”
They should protest on weekends and during breaks.  And take classes in logic.

I see protests on "test days".  One of these days I will run a chi-squared analysis on absences on test/quiz days vs other days.  I have no doubt what the results would be, given that the number of empty seats on test/quiz days is noticeably higher than on other days.

By the way, does anyone else see in this new policy the potential for abuse by school administrators?

Friday, December 27, 2019

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The climate:
The Royal Statistical Society announced the Statistic of the Decade as “8.4 million.” The estimated accumulated deforestation of the Amazon rainforest over the past decade is equivalent to around 8.4 million soccer fields (about 10.3 million football fields). That is the size of Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

We – I’m a member of the judging panel – also decided to have a highly commended statistic of the decade of “19 percent.” The global death rate from air pollution fell by 19 percent over the past decade (and by over 42 percent since 1990)...

And I think these two statistics chosen by the Royal Statistical Society actually highlight the crux of the issue with environmental concerns, pollution and climate change as a whole.

The deforestation of the Amazon is a very serious issue. Any short-term financial gain is absolutely blown out of the water by the long-term financial and environmental loss. But the environment and climate change are complicated issues and by only focusing on the impending doom (of which there is certainly truth), we tend to ignore, and in fact, brush off the positive developments.

Make Your Own Hallmark Christmas Movie

You laugh, but it's possible!

Math students:  how many different movies are possible with the given choices?

Thursday, December 26, 2019

American Christmas

I've loved this one since the first time I saw it:
Are Trenton and Bastogne the 2 most famous/inspiring Christmas battles in American war history?

Blast From The Past

I remember learning about "layaway" as a child, I didn't know it was still done:
For the past two years, items on layaway for over 200 families at the Walmart here have been paid for by some generous soul who won't reveal his or her identity. Last year, this modern St. Nicholas paid off $46,000 in items placed on layaway by local residents. This year's total was $40,000.
Generosity is one of the most noble traits.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Monday, December 23, 2019

A Canadian Gets It

Despite our thousands-of-miles-long border and kinda sorta common language, there are significant differences between the cultures of the US and Canada.  In many areas I find Canada to be much more culturally similar to Europe than to the US.  There isn't much of a "small government", American-style "conservative" right in Europe or in Canada.

That doesn't mean there are dissenters up north, just that they're much fewer and much quieter than we are in the US.  The owner of this vehicle though, might be home in many parts of the US:
 (I took this picture in 2016)

The author of this article understands as well:
The progressive dislike of handguns and certain kinds of rifles in Canada isn’t a public policy issue. It’s an ideological preference. Millions of Canadians do not understand how tight our laws already are, how they could be reasonably improved, have no interest in shooting sports and cannot fathom why anyone would feel differently. They’d rather live in a country with fewer guns. For a brief moment last year, there was a news story that gave their cause ammunition, but even when that story was completely debunked, the focus on legal guns remained. This isn’t about gun control. It’s dislike for guns and gun owners.  (boldface mine--Darren)

That’s fine. We’re all entitled to our views. But it’s important we be honest. The changes the Liberals will soon bring down will cost hundreds of millions of tax dollars, anger and inconvenience thousands of citizens and devastate a thriving sports shooting industry, but won’t stop the shootings in our cities, or, Canadian data suggests, reduce suicides. It’ll just disarm law-abiding, non-violent Canadians. That’s the goal. It always has been.  (again, boldface mine--Darren)
Leftists always seem to operate from the same playbook.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

So Many False Prophets

In the field of education, facts are not required for some people to become superstars.  Come up with some novel belief, or repackage an old one, and if it sounds good, off you go on the lecture circuit to make your millions!  It may sound odd, but the education field places probably the least emphasis on scientific data analysis and more emphasis on emotion and excitement than any other field.  Look, whole language!  (Who cares if study after study after study shows that phonics if far and away the best learning method.)  Look, self-esteem!  (Show me the good that has produced, better to try self-control.)  Look, peer mediation!  (Results?  We don't need no stinking results.)  If it sounds good, too many of us in education will fly to it like a moth to a flame, evidence (or lack thereof) be damned.

In math, one of the prophets is Jo Boaler.  She has Stanford attached to her name, so in education that gives her immediate cachet--whether or not her methods are of value.  She talks about "mindsets", she isn't a fan of memorization and recall, she appeals to people who weren't necessarily successful in math at school.

Intelligent but lesser known voices--including that of the author of California's (awesome) 1997 math standards--are arrayed against her, but her star appeal has so far won out over reason.  Here's another voice that doesn't take Boaler's gospel at face value, reviewing her recent book:
Perhaps it’s true that you can’t judge a book by its cover—but the bright splashes of color on the cover of Limitless Mind certainly suggest that this book will be full of positive messages. And it is. Jo Boaler, a professor of mathematics education at Stanford, devotes a chapter to each of six “learning keys.” Each key is a variation on the overall theme of the book, which sets out to make the case that intelligence is not a fixed entity, and that most everyone has the potential to learn most anything. In parts, this volume reads like a self-help book for developing positive self-beliefs and unleashing one’s previously unknown intellectual powers. It contains touching anecdotes and examples of how to apply the keys to achieving a “limitless mind,” with particular attention to math. However, while the book’s content is a mile wide, its substance is little more than an inch deep...

Unfortunately, Boaler’s review of the empirical literature on efforts to change mindsets uses outdated studies and overstates the effects of the interventions. Some of the early studies on this subject did indeed suggest that mindset interventions among students had large transfer effects on their academic learning, but subsequent work with larger, more representative samples of students has shown that these effects are, at best, modest—and possibly, nonexistent. A recent study with more than 12,000 U.S. 9th graders showed that, following less than an hour of computerized mindset intervention, lower-achieving students raised their grade point averages by 0.1 points in subjects such as math, science, and English—representing a small but significant transfer effect. In contrast, a randomized controlled trial conducted by the United Kingdom’s Education Endowment Foundation found almost no evidence for a positive effect of a mindset intervention targeted at both students and their teachers. In sum, the evidence from these large-scale trials is mixed, and the positive effects reported are smaller than those conveyed in some of the earlier work on mindset intervention that Boaler cites in her book. The newest research does not support the book’s strong claims about mindset.

Ironically, despite reviews and blog posts pointing out Boaler’s clear errors of interpretation and inference in her previous writings, she adopts a fixed mindset when it comes to scientific evidence, continuing her past tendency to play fast and loose with these findings and to ignore those that run counter to her narrative.
Read the whole thing.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Duality of Christmas

I probably have a similar post every year, but here I go again.

Christmas, by it's very name, is a Christian holiday.  Manger scene, 3 wise men from the East bearing gifts, star in the sky.  It's all in the Bible.

You know what's not in the Bible?  Flying reindeer, decorated evergreen trees, mass commercialism, eggnog, and a fat guy who lives at the North Pole:

There was a huge dust-up in the IT community this week after Microsoft caved to a developer who complained about a festive Santa hat embedded in the code, saying the "religious" symbol was "offensive."

The drama played out on GitHub, the leading open-source code repository, which hosts Microsoft's open-source projects, including the popular developer tool VSCode.

Earlier this week, a user named Christian-Schiffer opened an "issue" on the platform complaining that someone at Microsoft had inserted an " Easter egg" into the code, displaying a Santa hat to users. "Santa Hat on vscode insiders and pushing of religion is very offensive to me," he wrote in the subject line.

"Additionally xmas has cost millions of Jews their lives over the centuries, yet even if that was not the case, pushing religious symbols as part of a product update is completely unacceptable," he went on to say. "Please remove it immediately and make it your top priority. To me this is almost equally offensive as a swastika."
When I think about the "War on Christmas",  I don't consider the problem to be anti-Christian.  I consider the problem to be puritanical leftists who can't stand the idea that someone, somewhere, is having a good time.

As a teacher, I understand prohibitions about having religious iconography in our classrooms.  I knew a teacher who was pretty incensed when he was told he couldn't have a small creche on his desk--his personal work space--because of his position of authority over the students who went up to his desk.  But there's no religious iconography at all in Santa, in snowmen, in flying reindeer, in Christmas trees.  Anyone trying to ban those in public is just a mean-spirited, sad little person who won't be happy until no one else is.  They deserve to be scorned and mocked, not kowtowed to.

That is why I don't ignore the War on Christmas.  Christmas, my favorite holiday?  I won't cede an inch of that ground to lefties.

Friday, December 20, 2019

When You Have To Invent Victims

Copied in its entirety from Instapundit:

Related: “Food desert” research is bogus. Plus: “‘Knoxville’s Federally-Designated ‘Food Deserts’ Include Super Walmart, Sam’s Club, Kroger. Plus a couple of tasty oriental supermarkets.’ And a Trader Joe’s.”

Anyway, if you want minority neighborhoods to have more farmer’s markets, you’re just promoting white privilege, so shut up, racist.
I call BS on the whole "food desert" and "food insecurity" issues anyway, at least in the United States.

The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

The Camile Paglia feminist in me asks, Isn’t this just an admission that women can’t cut it in STEM fields? Isn’t this the most anti-feminist suggestion there is?
The authors of a new study suggest that science and technology professors should “equalize average grades across classes” in order to draw more women into those fields of study...

Notably, the authors determined that women in the sample data, though possessing higher grades overall than the men, were underrepresented in STEM classes. Their contention? That “harsher grading policies in STEM courses disproportionately affect women,” according to the study itself.

Almost There

I have to administer final exams to 2 classes, and then I'm done for 2 weeks!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Using Their Own Weapons Against Them

Let's get something out of the way--the 2nd Amendment was not written to protect hunting, and neither was it written to allow you to protect yourself in your own home.  It was written so the states and the people could protect themselves from a tyrannical government.  Thus, laws restricting the possession and transportation of firearms are, prima facie, unconstitutional.

But the governor and legislature in Virginia want to enact unconstitutional restrictions on firearms (and their owners) in the state.  I like how some Virginians are dealing with these leftwing restrictions.

Some jurisdictions are taking a page from the leftie playbook and, in an "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" way, are declaring themselves "2nd Amendment sanctuaries":
You can’t stop an idea whose time has come.

That’s a lesson we’ve seen hammered home by the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement in Virginia in the last month.
Like the leftwing so-called sanctuary cities that we have too many of here in the West, these Virginia counties have declared that they just won't follow a law they find unjust.  Entirely unlike those cities, though, firearms restrictions (so-called gun control) are not only unjust, they're unconstitutional.  The Virginia counties are saying they'll uphold the law.  Kind of a big difference, don't you think?

But wait, it gets better:
But in Tazewell County, they’ve raised the bar.

On Tuesday, December 10th, the Board of Supervisors passed two different resolutions. The first resolution declared the County to be a Second Amendment Sanctuary. The second promoted the order of militia in the county.
Using the first clause of the 2nd Amendment--who can argue against that?!
Tazewell County’s resolutions both would eliminate funding for any branch of law enforcement that would infringe on the rights of the citizens to keep and bear arms.

But if the state tried to turn the tables, they could deny the county funding in areas other than law enforcement or even attempt to remove the elected officials standing in their way.  Given the threats from Northam and Congressman McEachin this week, those are very legitimate fears.

That is where the militia resolution is in place.   County Administrator Erc Young laid out their thought process: “Our position is that Article I, Section 13, of the Constitution of Virginia reserves the right to ‘order’ militia to the localities,” Young said. “Therefore, counties, not the state, determine what types of arms may be carried in their territory and by whom. So, we are ‘ordering’ the militia by making sure everyone can own a weapon.”

If the Governor or any other State entity tires to remove their Sheriff from office for disobeying unjust laws, they’ll face a legally assembled group of armed citizens standing against them.
Defense against tyrannical government is the very purpose of the 2nd Amendment, and Virginia's own constitutional makes Tazewell County's law completely legal.  And it's not just a county here and there:
Eight Virginia localities became sanctuaries Thursday night, bringing the total to 93, including 75 of Virginia's 95 counties and 18 of its legally independent cities. The movement—which pushes local governments to declare that they won't enforce new gun laws they deem unconstitutional—has seen grassroots support from people of all backgrounds and ages in both rural and urban Virginia. It shows no sign of slowing, despite Northam promising a grandfather clause omitting preexisting owners from his proposed gun ban and threatening "consequences" for areas that become sanctuaries.

The continued momentum of the movement, especially in blue parts of the state, may weigh heavily on the new Democratic state legislature when it convenes Jan. 6. 
Virginia's motto is Sic Semper Tyrannis:
Sic semper tyrannis is a Latin phrase meaning "thus always to tyrants". It suggests that bad outcomes will or should befall tyrants.
The first battle of the American Revolution, the Battle of Lexington and Concord, was fought because the Crown attempted to disarm the local colonists.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The College Board Lied?

A lawsuit will find out:
Parent filed a federal class action suit today against the College Board, a ubiquitous student testing organization, for deceptively collecting and selling students’ confidential personal information.

While formally a not-for-profit, the College Board has approximately $1 billion in annual revenues each year and highly compensates its slew of executives, including its president who received over $1.5 million in 2017 compensation. Much of the revenues come from administering the SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, PSAT 8/9 and Advanced Placement Exams (“AP”).

According to the suit, the College Board ramped up these revenues using deceptive practices to market a “Student Search Service” to test takers, falsely making it appear as if the service would assist them in getting into colleges and universities. However, “College Board’s true purpose in obtaining the personal information was to sell it to third party organizations in order to increase its already substantial revenues.”
I'm all for standardized testing--but not when individuals have to pay for it. I support state testing, but I'm no fan of AP tests, for example.

Monday, December 16, 2019

California Education Spending

From the K-12 section of California's budget:
The Budget includes total funding of $103.4 billion ($58.8 billion General Fund and $44.6 billion other funds) for all K-12 education programs.
The Budget Summary shows that California will be spending $148 billion from the General Fund this year.  Total expenditures (see Figure 1) are approximately $209 billion (this site says $215 billion).  K-12 education thus receives about 49.5% of all state spending (or 48.1% if you believe the latter number).

And let's not forget that when the lottery was sold to us back in the 80s, lottery money to schools would mean that education would never be shortchanged in California again. How could it be, when so many people play the lottery?

In a state this big and with such high taxes, all that should be good, right?  There should be money blowing down the halls of our schools, right?  Somehow, though, that isn't happening.  In fact, in a state with a budget surplus, there's an effort underway to raise taxes for education:
Californians will be asked next November to vote for a large-scale tax increase to dramatically increase education funding. Over the next several months, the pressure on Governor Newsom and the state legislature to shape their own funding package will intensify.
Where is all the money currently going?  Why isn't about half the state budget enough?  The important question is:  how much money should public education cost, and how do we provide a quality education within that amount?  No one will ever answer that question, though.  We'll just throw more taxpayer money at education, and there will be no real accountability at all to ensure that it's spent wisely.
“In order to provide a high-quality education that improves outcomes for all students and helps close achievement gaps, our schools require significantly greater resources,” said California School Boards Association Executive Director Vernon Billy. “California has an education funding crisis and any policy “solution” that fails to account for this reality is essentially grandstanding.”
A liberal's answer to every question about funding is more more more.  It doesn't matter how much we already spend, it doesn't matter how much we need to spend, it only matters that we spend more.

Greta and the Covington Kids

Grumpy Greta has made herself a celebrity.  You cannot simultaneously insert yourself into a political movement and not be criticized for your beliefs.  Those who claim that she shouldn't be criticized--because she's a child!  because she is on the autism spectrum!--are hoping for a human shield that the rest of us just don't recognize.

Some don't like the President's tweets against the girl:
On Thursday morning, the President of the United States sent a tweet to his 60+ million followers blasting a 16-year-old girl with Asperger's syndrome who has rallied efforts at fighting climate change around the globe.

"Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend!" Trump wrote of teenage climate crisis activist Greta Thunberg. "Chill Greta, Chill!"

...Trump is a bully.
Oh boo hoo. The same people crying crocodile tears over his tweet were yucking it up when the president's son was attacked, by name, in Congressional hearings a couple weeks ago.  They are the same people who jumped onto the "Covington kids are raaaaaacist!" bandwagon a year ago. 

What is the difference between Grumpy Greta on the one hand and the president's son and the Covington kids on the other?  One inserted herself into politics, the others did not.  That is the difference, and it's a huge one.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

"Equity"--It Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means

In education, "equity" means equality of outcomes.  We don't insist on that in sports--because sports are important.  Education?  Bah, irrelevant.  At least one rookie teacher sees through part of the charade, though:
“Anti-racist” educators are busy arguing about who owns “equity,” writes Jasmine Lane, a first-year English teacher, on Citizen Ed and Education Post. It has little to do with improving teaching and learning, she argues.

Equity advocates assume that “if you just make teachers more aware of their individual biases and roles in systematic and systemic racism, teachers will teach better and students will learn better,” she writes. “This has yet to be demonstrated.
Ms. Lane and I probably wouldn't agree on a lot of things (read the entire post), but she and I agree on this.  As a commenter on Joanne's linked post above wrote:
Well, being illiterate, innumerate, culturally incompetent in the world of work and lacking the personal skills and behaviors expected therein is surely a great way to create more poverty and government dependence. Productive, self-sufficient people do not see that as success. I am glad that she wants her students to have the opportunities and choices that being decently educated bring.

President Reagan said the best anti-poverty tool was a job.   If you truly believe that education is the best path to employment, then watered-down, feel-good, victimhood pablum should not be your go-to prescription.  Teach well and aim high.

My recommendations?  Teach reading via phonics.  Ensure students know their multiplication tables (it can be done, Mrs. Barton did it year after year after year).  Accomplish those two things by the end of 3rd grade and you set students up for success.  Fail to do them, and you contribute significantly to the problems in education that we have today. 

Every Misfit Isn't Gay

Are such people sad, or disgusting?  (Or should I embrace the power of "and" over "or"?)
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is a “queer” icon whether “conservatives” like it or not, according to one Ivy League professor...

Boylan began a gender transition to live as a woman at the age of 42. In her article, she compares her life experience to the Christmas classic, saying, “the subtext of this ridiculous story was the truth of my own improbable life. A fabulously blond elf who doesn’t like to make toys? [He wants to be a dentist. A gay dentist, perhaps?] A reindeer who is cast out by those who are supposed to love him, on account of an accident of birth?”
Judy Garland, Gloria Gaynor, Lady Gaga, Cher, and Madonna?  Gay icons.  Rudolph?  Not so much.

I'm reminded of an Iowahawk tweet that Instapundit repeats quite often:

Jumped The Shark

Grumpy Greta is past her sell-by date.

First, there's always the hypocrisy with these people:

You could be forgiven if you were suckered in by the fact that she's a teenager with disabilities, but she's so sincere.  But the mask has started slipping.  A couple of weeks ago she let us know that it isn't just about so-called climate change, but also “colonial, racist, and patriarchal systems of oppression.”  Now she's gone full-on Marxist:

Greta Thunberg told cheering protesters today 'we will make sure we put world leaders against the wall' if they fail to take urgent action on climate change.

The Swedish teen activist was addressing the crowd at a Fridays for Future protest in Turin, Italy.
Scratch a leftist, a totalitarian bleeds.

Update:  Her explanation of her comment seems reasonable enough, assuming that she was in fact ad libbing:
Critics alleged that the remark, delivered in Turin, Italy, meant she was advocating for violence against world leaders who dodge their responsibilities to fight climate change...

“Yesterday I said we must hold our leaders accountable and unfortunately said 'put them against the wall'. That’s Swenglish: “att ställa någon mot väggen” (to put someone against the wall) means to hold someone accountable,” she tweeted.

“That’s what happens when you improvise speeches in a second language. But of course I apologise if anyone misunderstood this,” she continued. “I can not enough express the fact that I - as well as the entire school strike movement- are against any possible form of violence. It goes without saying but I say it anyway.”

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Today's Army-Navy Game

Kickoff is in a little under 3 hours.  The current line is Navy by 11.5, which is to be expected when Army is 5-7 and Navy is 9-2.  While Army has underperformed expectations this year, all would be forgiven with a win today.

The Army-Navy Game is called America's Game for a reason:
Here’s to the healthiest rivalry in American sports.

There’s a reason it’s called “America’s Game.” When the Army Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen meet at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia this weekend, it will be occupied by players on both sidelines who have pledged themselves to a lifetime of service to our nation. And the stands will be full of men and women who have made a similar pledge – from current cadets and midshipmen, to active duty soldiers, sailors, and Marines, to those whose days on active duty have passed, but whose passion to serve remains.

For one of the oldest rivalries in college sports, Army-Navy sets a tone of sportsmanship that’s too often missing today. Unlike other major college rivalries, most of the starting players aren’t playing to catch the attention of agents or professional scouts – they’ve already been recruited, and their contracts have already been signed...

Win or lose, both teams will raise their voices and sing the alma maters for both schools. And, the most important song of the day will remain the Star-Spangled Banner. What could be more absolutely American than watching Army-Navy to finish college football’s regular season? God Bless America!
Yes, America wins either way. But as an Army-American I want call out the two most beautiful words in the English language, and call them out many many times, TOUCHDOWN, ARMY!  And I want to BEAT NAVY!

Update:  I enjoyed the 1st quarter.  After that, not so much.  I didn't expect the game to be so lopsided.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Is Anybody Really Surprised By This?

One might be forgiven for wondering if this wasn't the plan all along:
At least 600 Californians, including lifelong Republicans and Democrats, have had their voter registration unexpectedly changed, and several county elections officials are pinning much of the blame on the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles...

Elections officials across the state are linking many of the reported complaints to the state’s new Motor Voter program, which launched ahead of the 2018 midterms to automatically register eligible voters when they visit the DMV. The 2015 law was designed to help boost participation, but a rushed launch prompted 105,000 registration errors to occur following its roll-out.
Usually I try to live by the maxim "don't attribute to malice what can more easily be explained by incompetence", but in California, you can never be too sure.  In this case it's probably "and", not "or".

Update, 12/15/19:  I checked my voter registration online and my party affiliation hasn't changed.

Read more here: https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article238302243.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article238302243.html#storylink=cpy

Thursday, December 12, 2019

This Is Not A New Way To Solve Quadratic Equations

There are no "tricks" in math.  Sure, there are plenty of things that are not intuitive (probability calculations often fall into that category), and some proofs may require an insight that is not obvious, but there are no "tricks".  "Trick" implies some cheat or shortcut; in math, proving theorems requires every step to be mathematically valid--thus, no "tricks".

So when I started to read this article about "a new way to make quadratic equations easy", I was at first taken aback by the fact that the author's repeated claim that completing the square, a crucial step in a common derivation of the quadratic formula, was a "trick".  Still, I read on.

The author explained a supposedly new way to solve quadratic equations.  I found it no more intuitive than the "repeating the square" derivation and use of the quadratic formula, and it relied on an insight that would not be obvious to an Algebra 1 student:
Multiplying out the right hand side gives


This is true when -B=R+S and when C=RS.

Now here comes the clever bit. Loh points out that the numbers, R and S, add up to -B when their average is -B/2.

“So we seek two numbers of the form -B/2±z, where z is a single unknown quantity,” he says.

Why must R and S add up to -B when their average is -B/2?  I of course know why, but an Algebra 1 student isn't naturally going to see it.

Here's the example given:

Is that truly any easier than the standard quadratic formula?  And is this "new" method truly any easier, especially when a is not equal to 1?
Attempting the same problem using the traditional method is much trickier. Go on, give it a go! The new approach is much easier and more intuitive, not least because it doesn’t require the formula to be memorized at all.
Does it not require memorization?  As quoted in the picture above, does it not require memorization of the fact that "The first step is to think that the two roots of the equation must be equal to -B/2±z = 1±z"?  Where is the simplicity?

Then came this:
Loh says he "would actually be very surprised if this approach has entirely eluded human discovery until the present day, given the 4,000 years of history on this topic, and the billions of people who have encountered the formula and its proof. Yet this technique is certainly not widely taught or known."
Complete and total crap. The axis of symmetry of a parabola (in the given form) is x=-b/2a. The roots must be equidistant from the axis of symmetry (because the curve is symmetric about this line, duh); this is given in the quadratic equation by the -b/2a +/- root(b-squared - 4ac)/2a. To clarify, that's -b/2a plus some amount, and -b/2a minus that same amount.  In other words, there's nothing at all "new" that's been "discovered" here--just a slightly different way to think about what every math major (and most Algebra 2 students) already knows.  This method is certainly no easier for students to comprehend--again, the example above looks easy only because a=1.  Not all quadratic equations have such a simple leading coefficient!
“Perhaps the reason is because it is actually mathematically nontrivial to make the reverse implication: that always has two roots, and that those roots have sum −B and product C,” he says.
Again, well-known.  In fact, give me any two roots of a quadratic, and I can tell you the equation of the simplest quadratic with those roots because the sum of the roots is -b/a (again, Loh oversimplifies by assuming a is equal to 1) and the product of the roots is c/a.  I've taught that for years.

Example: a quadratic has roots 2+/-5i.  The sum is 4, the product is 29.  If a=1, then b=-4 and c=29.  Thus, the simplest quadratic that has those roots is x^2-4x+29.  Not rocket science.

Loh has discovered nothing new here.  His method isn't "widely taught" because it's not as efficient (or indeed as elegant) as the standard approach:  derive the quadratic equation by completing the square, then use the quadratic formula to solve quadratic equations.  This "discovery" smacks of someone trying to make a splash and get some acclaim, sort of like those who claim that we should not use pi but instead should use tau (which equals 2*pi).  Silly, unnecessary, unhelpful.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

President Trump Is Incompetent

He's an incompetent Nazi.  Moved our embassy to Jerusalem, serenaded a Holocaust survivor, just issued orders using Title VI to protect Jews from discrimination based on religion or national origin at colleges and universities.  There's even a MAGA yarmulke on Amazon.

He's an incompetent Putin puppet.  He's sold weapons to Ukraine and imposed sanctions on Russia.  Remember when President Obama said we couldn't drill our way out of our energy problem?  Drill, baby, drill!  And keep drilling.  Last month the US became a net petroleum exporter for the first time in 75 years.  And we're going to sell LNG to the former Warsaw Pact, undercutting Vlad's state oil company.

He's an incompetent homophobe.  From last night's Instapundit:
WORST. HOMOPHOBIC. PRESIDENT. EVER. Senate confirms openly gay Trump nominee to 9th Circuit. “The Senate confirmed President Trump’s ninth judicial nominee to the liberal 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, elevating Patrick Bumatay, an openly gay Filipino man, to the federal bench over objections from his liberal home-state senators.”
So do Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris hate gays, or Filipinos?
UPDATE: From the comments:
“53-40 party-line vote”
40 Democrats voted against a gay person of color.
Thank God we have Trump to roll over such bigotry in the name of diversity.
He can't even bumble right.  He's got the Mexican government preventing migrants from illegally crossing our border, and he's got more NATO countries living up to their treaty obligations regarding funding the alliance, among other things.

He's such a screw-up, I hope he gets an additional 4 more years in office.  Imagine how much he could screw up then!

Update, 12/14/19:  He's an incompetent white supremacist, too:

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The End of Recycling?

I've stated many times that I'm a conservationist.  I don't like to waste things.  If something can be reused or donated, I'm all for that.  If it makes economic sense to recycle, I'm all for that, too.  If not, we "recycle" only for secular-religious reasons:
After decades of earnest public-information campaigns, Americans are finally recycling. Airports, malls, schools, and office buildings across the country have bins for plastic bottles and aluminum cans and newspapers. In some cities, you can be fined if inspectors discover that you haven’t recycled appropriately. 

But now much of that carefully sorted recycling is ending up in the trash. 

For decades, we were sending the bulk of our recycling to China—tons and tons of it, sent over on ships to be made into goods such as shoes and bags and new plastic products. But in 2018, the country restricted imports of certain recyclables, including mixed paper—magazines, office paper, junk mail—and most plastics. Waste-management companies across the country are telling towns, cities, and counties that there is no longer a market for their recycling. These municipalities have two choices: pay much higher rates to get rid of recycling, or throw it all away.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Close Ineffective Schools?

Let's start with the information:
School closure is relatively common in the United States. An analysis by the Urban Institute found that about 2% of public schools, on average, were closed each year between 2003 and 2013, and these closures were found in urban, suburban, and rural communities.[1] A substantial number of public schools have been closed in Michigan, California, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Urban school systems that have closed several schools include New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago, Detroit, and Baltimore.

In many cases, schools are closed in response to declining populations or other factors that led to a substantial decline in available resources. In other cases, school boards and elected officials struggle with the decision of what to do with persistently ineffective schools. Should they supply such schools with additional resources and attention to spur improvements? Or is it better simply to close schools where students consistently underperform and to enroll them in others?

This paper argues that, based on the available research, closing persistently ineffective schools can be a promising strategy for improving the educational outcome of the students who attend them.
What constitutes an "ineffective" school?  What can schools do when students don't pull their own weight?  As I have so many times, I put much of the responsibility for student performance on the students and families.  I have students only 1 hour per day--I can do a lot, but I don't have any control over the 17 hrs per day my students are out of school.

I grant that my job as a teacher is more than just transmitting knowledge.  It's part motivational, part inspirational.  But only part.  My students are the arbiters of their own destinies, they decide how much time and effort they will put into class.  I can lead the horses to water, but....

I'll read the linked paper when I have time.  I'm curious what the authors' methodology and evidence are.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Unhappy With Their College Major

Is anyone surprised by the majors on this list?
After adding in satisfaction, stress level and job opportunities, among other factors, jobs marketplace ZipRecruiter found that the majors college students most regretted choosing spanned the arts and sciences.

English, communications, biological sciences and law all made the list, according to ZipRecruiter’s survey of more than 5,000 college graduates who were looking for a job.

I don't want to be on the hook for these people's choice of major.  I am absolutely against absolving people of their student loans.  Rewarding bad behavior doesn't make good economic sense.

Heroes Come In All Types

Some of them are even Naval Academy graduates:
A young graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, whose dream was to become a pilot, is being hailed a hero after he reportedly related crucial information about the identity of the Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola shooter to first responders, despite having been shot several times, a family member revealed.

Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, was confirmed as one of the three victims who were killed Friday morning when Saudi national Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani opened fire on a flight training program for foreign military personnel, Adam Watson revealed in a Facebook post.

In an interview to air Sunday with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, Defense Secretary Mark Esper (a West Point graduate--Darren) said all three victims were Americans. Two were members of the U.S. Navy, a senior Pentagon official told Fox News.

“Today has been the worst day of my life. My youngest brother gave his life for his country in a senseless shooting,” Watson’s post read.

“After being shot multiple times he made it outside and told the first response team where the shooter was and those details were invaluable. He died a hero and we are beyond proud but there is a [hole] in our hearts that can never be filled,” he added.
What a loss.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Paying For College Degrees

I'm of the opinion that if government were to get out of the student loan business, and banks--whose business it is to determine the viability of getting loans paid back--were to be restored to their rightful role of lending money, you'd get a lot less Medieval Uzbeki Film Studies majors and a few more math, science, and engineering majors.  And there'd be a lot less ridiculous talk about forgiving student loan debt, too:
Americans have long suspected that, for many, a college degree simply isn’t worth the price. 

American taxpayers – two-thirds of whom do not have a college degree – are likewise increasingly skeptical of the notion that they should pay off loans that someone else made the decision to take out...

According to The Wall Street Journal, 15 percent of programs graduate students who carry more federal student loan debt than their annual income. 

Interestingly, graduate programs – which are generally perceived to be good investments – are some of the worst offenders. 

Students who graduate from the University of Miami Law School, for example, hold a median total debt of $150,896, but earn a starting salary of just $52,100. Even more problematic, students who obtain a master’s degree from New York University in film/video and photographic arts graduate with a median total debt of a whopping $168,568, but earn a median starting salary of $29,600. 

Those findings are particularly concerning, considering that there is virtually no cap on how much students can borrow for graduate school under the PLUS loan program. 

There is simply no reason that American taxpayers should be footing the entire cost of the bill upfront for degrees with such a low return on investment. 
There are more specifics in the article.

Parents, teach your children well.  Teach them how to make good financial decisions.

Petty Unions

As I wrote a couple weeks ago:
My local union wants the authority and power that comes with being the sole representative, but doesn't want to provide the representation.  They've taken a sharp turn for the worse.
As the Supreme Court ruled in Janus:
These benefits greatly outweigh any extra burden im­posed by the duty of providing fair representation for nonmembers. What this duty entails, in simple terms, is an obligation not to “act solely in the interests of [the union’s] own members.”
I hope these instructors win their case:
The National Right to Work (NRTW) Legal Defense Foundation has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case of four Massachusetts teachers who are asking the high Court to review a state law that allows a union to block non-members from having a voice in workplace conditions.

More information about the case brought by four Massachusetts educators can be found here:https://t.co/86mFOHUTko

The #SCOTUS docket is here: https://t.co/KCozzqsD1a

— Right To Work (@RightToWork) December 5, 2019

Branch v. Commonwealth Employment Relations Board involves lead plaintiff Dr. Ben Branch, a finance professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and three other educators. According to NRTW, the teachers are “challenging the application of the state’s monopoly bargaining law for its educational system as a violation of their Constitutional rights.”

The foundation states:
The educators argue that the state law, which is manipulated by union bosses to block teachers who are not union members from voting or otherwise voicing their opinions in the determination of their own working conditions, results in depriving nonmember teachers of their First Amendment rights.
The four plaintiffs have all turned down membership in the National Education Association (NEA) – the nation’s largest teachers’ union – and its local affiliates.
Power corrupts, etc.


They already have a gleaming glass tower overlooking the river and Old Sacramento.  Now my retirement system needs another building?  How many people, how much real estate, is actually required to manage the California State Teachers Retirement System?
California’s teacher pension fund wants to pay for a $300 million office tower on the Sacramento River with green bonds, a type of investment used to finance projects that meet environmental sustainability standards.

CalSTRS is issuing $281 million worth of the bonds to finance the expansion of its West Sacramento headquarters, according to bond documents.

The $246 billion California State Teachers’ Retirement System is adding a 10-story tower next to its 17-story headquarters on Fourth Street. The fund’s board approved spending up to $300 million on the project in November 2018 to accommodate future growth in its workforce.
I'm sure CalSTRS has plenty of extra money lying around for new buildings. That must be why I'm having to pay more and more for the same benefits I've been promised for 20+ years.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Another Chicken Little Claim

The next massive teacher shortage is always just around the corner, but somehow it never materializes:
Julia Alvarez, a 21-year-old senior at Michigan State University, is part of a disappearing demographic: those pursuing a career as an educator.

"Why I really want to become a teacher is because I want to go back and make my community better," says Alvarez, who grew up just east of Los Angeles. "But I was afraid of going into it because there were so many reasons not to."

Teacher preparation programs have experienced sharp enrollment declines over the last eight years in nearly every state across the country, a new analysis shows.
Sure, math, science, and special education teachers are often in short supply, but they're in short supply because of the difficulty of the subject matter. When there's an actual shortage of elementary, English, or social science teachers, let me know.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Chicken Little Has Cried Wolf Too Many Times

Why don’t I believe all the scary hype about global warming? Because I’ve heard it all before:
FLASHBACK: ABC's ’08 Prediction: NYC Under Water from Climate Change By June 2015
I'm sure we can believe them this time around, though.


This is not a post about the Fleetwood Mac song.  Neither is it a post about aspirations and goals.  No, this is about sleeping dreams.

I have recurring dreams.  Four, actually, and two of them pertain to West Point.  I've had some of them so often, or variations of them, that I sometimes recognize that I'm dreaming and sometimes wake up suddenly.

Here are the dreams:
  • It's shortly before graduation at West Point, and I realize I haven't attended a class all semester and thus will fail.  It's almost always an English class, which is weird because I didn't even take English as a senior.  I understand that so far this isn't an uncommon dream, but here's where it takes its Alma Mater turn:  in the dream I wonder how I'm going to graduate, what lies I'll have to tell so I don't fail, but at West Point we don't lie, so I get very stressed--and I usually wake up with my heart pounding.
  • I try to yell at or to someone, but no sound comes out of my mouth.
I haven't had these next two in awhile, and hope not to ever again:
  • There are "neighborhood" people who hate me and like to mess with me.  In my dream I know who these people are, but they're no one I know in real life.  They might break into my house and steal some of my stuff--I know they somehow have a key to my house.  Or they steal my car and return it a few days later, just to let me know they can.
  • I'm a plebe again at West Point.  I don't know how to set up my uniform, what classes I'm supposed to attend, things like that.  Sometimes I realize that I've already graduated and cannot figure out what I'm doing back there as a plebe; sometimes I realize that I'm a 50+ year old man who graduated 30+ years before, and then try to understand why I'm back there as a plebe.
I had a variant of the yelling one last night.  I was in some sort of altercation with someone--in a barn?--that was close to getting physical.  I tried to yell to make whatever point I needed to make, but no sound came out.  It's not always a fight in these dreams, but last night it was.

I thought about that dream today, and tonight I thought it would be interesting to see what the dream interpreters say it means.  They all say the same thing:  I feel like no one is listening to me, or I feel ignored, or I don't have control over my life.  I once shared the "breaking in my house and stealing my car" dream with a friend, who said that one means that I don't feel like I have control over my life.

Hmm, two dreams telling me the same thing.

What's odd is that, at least consciously, I don't feel like my life is out of my control.  Sure, there are things I don't like, but certainly no more so than anyone else in America.  I mean, my parents are getting older, and all that entails, but I don't feel like that's bothering me any more that it justifiably should.  I have another family member going through an extremely rough patch in life that I can't do much to alleviate, but I don't feel like that's any more of a drain on me that it justifiably should be.

So why do I, more often than I should, feel like my life is out of my control, if you believe the dream interpreters?  No idea.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

This Is Free Speech (Says Spock In A Beard)

In what bizarro world mirror universe is this free speech?
San Diego State University launched a new bias reporting system, but packaged it as part of a larger community communication effort, including a website dedicated to "free speech."

In addition to being launched alongside a tool that encourages the reporting of "incidents of bias," the "free speech" website focuses in large part on reserving the rights of the university to restrict the "time, place, and manner" of speech. The site for the university's new "inclusive reporting system" encourages students to report "instances that promote our campus commitment, as well as those that fall short."
War is peace.  Freedom is slavery.  Ignorance is strength.

You Get No Argument From Me

Yes.  A thousand times yes:
Abolish the TSA: Column

Monday, December 02, 2019

Disruptive Students

If you think stories like this are anecdotal, you're mistaken:
Last month, NBC Nightly News aired a segment on the latest classroom-management technique to sweep America’s schools: “room clears”: When a child throws a tantrum that could physically endanger his peers, teachers evacuate all of the other students from the classroom until the troublemaker has vented his rage upon empty desks, tables and chairs. The technique was virtually unheard of five years ago. But 56 percent of surveyed teachers and parents in Oregon now report having experienced a room clear in their or their child’s classroom over the last year.

Surrendering the classroom to a single student: The average reader might well ask why anyone thinks this would be a good idea. Yet the policies that make this approach inevitable have been applauded by a wide range of authorities, from the Southern Poverty Law Center to the Trump-administration’s Department of Education.

The emergence of room clears is a product of several fashionable education-policy trends designed to protect the rights of troubled students, often with little regard for the rights of their classmates. These include the provisions contained in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which mandates that special-education students be subject to the “least restrictive environment” possible. When it comes to students who are hard of hearing, dyslexic or developmentally delayed, this policy likely has done a great deal of good. But many schools also label disruptive or violent students as having an “Emotional and Behavioral Disability” (EBD). Rather than provide these students specialized attention in separate settings, schools often funnel them into traditional classrooms.
Discipline is a huge problem in schools today--and not just with students with serious behavioral disabilities, either.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Can You Believe It's December Already?

As a teacher, once Halloween hits, time starts flying. Veteran's Day.  Thanksgiving.  12 days of teaching, 3 days of finals, then Christmas.  Dr. King's birthday holiday.  Ski Week (officially Presidents' Week in my district).  Lots of time off!

Spring Break comes late this year, so it's kind of a slog from Ski Week to Spring Break.  Somehow I think I'll survive!

So it's already December.  Wow.

Grumpy Greta Tells The Truth

As I've said so many times, every so-called crisis I've seen in my lifetime (the population bomb, peak oil, acid rain, bird flu, nuclear winter, Y2K, global warming, et al.) has had the same "solutions" offered by our friends on the left--less freedom and choice for individuals, more control for governments and those who run them.  Grumpy Greta blew a gasket and finally admitted the truth:
Far-left climate extremist Greta Thunberg unloaded on the world in an op-ed published on Friday, claiming that fossil fuels “are literally” killing mankind, and that they are a threat to “our very existence” as she said that her “climate crisis” agenda is not just about the environment, but about fighting the “colonial, racist, and patriarchal systems of oppression.”

In an op-ed published in Project Syndicate, Thunberg and two other far-left climate activists attacked world leaders over their pro-capitalist policies, writing that “the politicians let the profiteers continue to exploit our planet’s resources and destroy its ecosystems in a quest for quick cash that threatens our very existence.”
As noted on Instapundit:
And just like that, it never actually was about climate. It’s always about changing society into a Marxist utopia and every one of these movements prove it,” the Daily Wire’s Jeremy Frankel tweets

Minorities Are Some of the Biggest Supporters of Charter Schools in the US

The Democrats risk losing minorities, and shafting children in the process, when they march in lockstep with self-serving teachers union views on charters:
The night before Democratic presidential candidates took to a debate stage here last week, black and Latino charter school parents and supporters gathered in a bland hotel conference room nearby to make signs they hoped would get the politicians’ attention.

“Charter schools = self-determination,” one sign read. “Black Democrats want charters!” another blared.

At issue is the delicate politics of race and education. For more than two decades, Democrats have largely backed public charter schools as part of a compromise to deliver black and Latino families a way out of failing district schools. Charters were embraced as an alternative to the taxpayer-funded vouchers for private-school tuition supported by Republicans, who were using the issue to woo minority voters.

But this year, in a major shift, the leading Democratic candidates are backing away from charter schools, and siding with the teachers’ unions that oppose their expansion. And that has left some black and Latino families feeling betrayed.

“As a single mom with two jobs and five hustles, I’m just feeling kind of desperate,” said Sonia Tyler, who plans to enroll her children in a charter school slated to open next fall in a suburb of Atlanta. “They’re brilliant; they’re curious. It’s not fair. Why shouldn’t I have a choice"...

Since Bill Clinton’s presidency, the charter school movement has had Democratic backing. It was central to President Barack Obama’s education legacy. But this campaign season, charter schools present a challenging issue for the four Democratic frontrunners for the nomination, all of whom are white, in a nominating contest that will be heavily influenced by black voters...

Richard Buery, chief of policy at KIPP, the nation’s largest charter network, called the Democratic shift “a reflection more broadly of the lack of respect for black voters in the party.”

“These are folks that should be champions of black children and allies of black educators,” said Buery, a Democrat.

This Is Exactly Why We Need A First Amendment

And a Second Amendment, for those who try to abridge the First:
A Quebec judge rejected part of comedian Mike Ward’s appeal regarding a joke about a disabled boy.

Ward was ordered to pay $35,000 to Jeremy Gabriel, who suffers from a genetic disorder that causes facial deformity and affects his hearing, due to a joke the comedian told at shows between 2010 and 2013.

Two of three judges ruled Mike Ward’s comments regarding Gabriel were not justifiable in a society where freedom of expression is valued.

Ward was originally ordered to pay an additional $7,000 to Gabriel’s mother—a fine which the courts overturned due to the indirect relationship between the joke and the boy’s mother.

The joke in question was regarding Gabriel’s disability. In 2005, Gabriel sang to Pope Benedict and Celine Dion to flesh out his dream of becoming an international singer.

Ward’s jokes called Gabriel a bad singer, stating that he was “terminally ill” and that Gabriel not passing away meant that his “Make a Wish” was invalid. Gabriel was not actually terminally ill, as Gabriel’s genetic disease—Treacher Collins syndrome—does not generally have an effect on lifespan. He was also not a Make-a-Wish kid, as Ward was embellishing the story for the sake of the joke.

Ward added that he tried to drown Gabriel, but he wouldn’t die...

Ward will appeal the case to the Supreme Court, Grey said on Thursday.

While the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of expression, the Appeals Court ruled that Ward had gone too far, passing what’s permissible by law.
His so-called joke isn't funny and is in horrible taste.  I guess people laughed, and I don't know any more of the context beyond what's excerpted above, but I can't imagine living in a country where telling jokes, even offensive jokes, is "passing what's permissible by law."

Lefties, imagine a world in which I get to determine what speech is "permissible by law".  (You'd probably be wrong, but let your fear inform you about government controls on speech.)

I love visiting Canada, and will do so again next summer, but let's not pretend our Northern Neighbor is a lot like us.  Most of us speak the same language, but beyond that, their culture is very different from ours.  I was reminded of that several times during my visit to British Columbia this past summer.