Monday, November 30, 2020

Politics in Academia

None of this surprises me at all:

Politics in Academia: A Case Study. Which values matter most to professors? Researchers at the State University of New York at New Paltz surveyed nearly 200 academics around the country and found variations according to the professors’ gender, political ideology, and department. Females, liberals, and professors of education prioritized prioritized social justice and students’ emotional well-being; males, conservatives and business professors prioritized academic rigor and knowledge advancement.


Last Friday two boys were shot at a local mall.  One of them had been my student for awhile last year, and the other is currently a student at our school.

I was talking last night to one of the the current student's teachers.  I asked if that student was a "face" or a "rectangle".

For those of you who have never been in a Zoom meeting:  Zoom is software that allows people to meet as groups.  In schools we use it for online classes.  The teacher creates a meeting and sends out a link; students click on the link and are admitted to the class meeting.  Like the opening of the Brady Bunch, each participant gets a rectangle; either the participant's name is shown, or if the participant has activated a web cam, the rectangle is filled with the video of the the participant (usually just their face).  For a variety of reasons we cannot require students to turn on their cameras, and most choose not to, so Zoom classes can feel like talking to a wall of black rectangular bricks with names on them.  When I asked if the student was a face or a rectangle, I was asking if this student ever turned on his camera.

Me:  Is he a face or a rectangle?

Teacher:  Rectangle.

This teacher never really got to know this student, seldom if ever saw his face.  And now the opportunity to do so is gone.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Rules vs. Suggestions

From California's 'rona web site:

All individuals living in the State of California are currently ordered to stay home or at their place of residence, except for permitted work, local shopping or other permitted errands, or as otherwise authorized (including in the Questions & Answers below)...

Stay in your county if you can. Don’t drive more than 2-3 hours.  

Huh?  What's the science! behind the 2-3 hour limit?  How will it be enforced?  (Hint:  it won't.)

If you arrive in California from other states or countries, including returning California residents, you should practice self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. You should also limit your interactions to your immediate household. This recommendation does not apply if you cross state or country borders for essential travel. 

Should quarantine?  It's a suggestion?  Then no, I decline your suggestion.  And why quarantine if you're traveling for pleasure but not if your travel was considered "essential"?  Does the virus know your reason for travel?

Considering the virulent stupidity of California's 'rona regulations--which have been flying at us fast and furious since March--I can only wonder this:

Friday, November 27, 2020

The Decorations Are Up

It took 2 entire Christmas CD's to do, but I've got tree decorated and my house decorations up. 

Getting pride of place on the front of the Christmas tree this year are my decorations representing this year's two trips, to Panama in February and to Yellowstone in July:

Now it's time to sit back and enjoy the rest of the day.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Well Rested, Well Tested

Sleep is what always allowed me to be academically successful, and sleep makes me a better functioning teacher.  This report does not surprise me at all:


Although numerous survey studies have reported connections between sleep and cognitive function, there remains a lack of quantitative data using objective measures to directly assess the association between sleep and academic performance. In this study, wearable activity trackers were distributed to 100 students in an introductory college chemistry class (88 of whom completed the study), allowing for multiple sleep measures to be correlated with in-class performance on quizzes and midterm examinations. Overall, better quality, longer duration, and greater consistency of sleep correlated with better grades. However, there was no relation between sleep measures on the single night before a test and test performance; instead, sleep duration and quality for the month and the week before a test correlated with better grades. Sleep measures accounted for nearly 25% of the variance in academic performance. These findings provide quantitative, objective evidence that better quality, longer duration, and greater consistency of sleep are strongly associated with better academic performance in college. Gender differences are discussed.

I Question The Order

 While I question the order, I don't question that these three are impressive academic institutions:

Well That Clears Things Up

Does this ruling make anything clearer?  Not to me:

California can't enforce a ban vanity license plates it considers “offensive to good taste and decency” because that violates freedom of speech, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar ruled in a case filed in March against Department of Motor Vehicles Director Steve Gordon on behalf of five Californians who were denied permission to put their messages on personalized license plates...

However, Tigar said the DMV probably could be permitted to deny plates that are, for instance, obscene, profane or contain hate speech because they fall outside of First Amendment protections.

Probably?  Probably?  How thick is the dividing line between "offensive to good taste and decency" and "obscene, profane"?  How big is that gray area?

What's allowed, and what's not?

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

So How Does This Work?

Lefties:  Defund the police!

Also lefties:  Police should enforce bans against Thanksgiving gatherings!

The stupid, it hurts.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

"Hate Whitey" Training

 My own school district is not immune to this:

In dramatic, urgent language, K-12 schools across the country – both public and private – professed solidarity with Black Lives Matter and vowed to dismantle white supremacy, as they scrambled to introduce anti-racist courses and remake themselves into racism-free zones...

The nation's K-12 schools have been incrementally adopting multiculturalism and ethnic studies for decades, but such courses have been the exception rather than the rule. This summer’s Black Lives Matter protests have sparked new level of commitment, a newfound urgency, and a new trend: anti-racist pedagogy...

“What’s really different now – and this has been decades in coming – is talking explicitly about whiteness,” Doucet said, citing a term that academics and activists use to critique the cultural, political and economic dominance exercised by Europeans and their descendants.

Doucet, who’s on leave from NYU and working as a program officer at the William T. Grant Foundation in New York, acknowledged that some of the content of anti-racist pedagogy may seem militant to those hearing it for the first time. But, she said, it serves an important purpose: chronicling the nation’s history from all perspectives, even if those perspectives conflict with one another.

When you single out one group of people for criticism--we used to call that bigotry, or bias, or dare I say it, racism. But that was then, this is now:

The rapid and radical changes in public and private schools have triggered a backlash among some parents who find the anti-racist message to be anti-white and anti-American, and those who say it’s historically inaccurate, inflammatory and divisive...

Their concern is that the edgy, new educational materials indoctrinate pupils with identity politics and leftist ideology, and leave no room for discussion.  

“They are using very positive words like diversity, equity and inclusivity to mislead you, but the message behind these words is horrifying,” said Elana Yaron Fishbein, a suburban Philadelphia mom who created the No Left Turn in Education organization. "They are grouping and stereotyping human being by skin color, and they are attributing characteristics to your personality based on skin color.”

You know who else groups and stereotypes by skin color, so I hear?  The KKK.  Just sayin'. 

Some parents say that immersing students in the concepts of white privilege, structural racism and whiteness should be balanced out with “viewpoint diversity.” They want their kids not only to be exposed to multiple perspectives but also to be able to freely critique anti-racist materials, and to form their own opinions

Jerome Eisenberg, a Los Angeles developer of apartments whose middle-school daughter attends the Brentwood School, said it’s irresponsible to introduce American history to uninformed students from the single perspective of race. 

“It’s just wrong to present this [material] as true to children who have no other background in U.S. history,” Eisenberg said. “It causes me consternation that bright line American heroes like Jefferson and Lincoln are cast as bad guys.”

Huh, you think? 

Anti-racist materials present a mix of themes – an emphasis on liberation and resistance movements, critiques of whiteness and systemic racism that come from critical race theory, and an introduction to other social justice causes. At times, the readings and lessons can take an unapologetic, even confrontational, stance toward America’s past and present. But unlike Black History Month, there are few if any mentions of African Americans who defied the color barrier as athletes, artists, inventors, scientists or soldiers.

"Critiques of whiteness".  Just call that what it is--racism. 

This pedagogy runs counter to the educational philosophy of Ian Rowe, who has run single-sex charter schools in New York City for the past decade and is the co-founder of Vertex Partnership Academies, which is opening charter schools in the South Bronx in 2022 that will primarily attract black and Hispanic students.

Rowe, who is also a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said that anti-racist pedagogy glosses over inconvenient facts, like Africans’ role in the global slave trade, and promotes a defeatist philosophy fixated on racial oppression, subjugation and injustice.  

“It taps into white guilt and black people’s sense that someone else is responsible for these problems that I have,” Rowe said. “The way this stuff plays out, if you are a low-income black kid, after a while you really start to believe it. You develop a very skewed version of the country, where you believe everyone is hostile to your efforts and that white supremacy is so strong that you don’t have the ability to control your own destiny.”

He is correct. I can imagine that life would be crushing if you felt you had no agency--that's part of the reason I'm a conservative, because people, not government, should have control over their own lives.  Lefties like compulsion.  Democrats liked owning slaves, Democrats called their party "the white man's party" for decades, and now they want to pretend none of that happened and force conservatives to pay the penance that Democrats should pay.  The hypocrisy is almost stifling.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Random Selection, or Choose Only Volunteers?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to calling on students in class.  One says to choose students randomly, perhaps by drawing popsicle sticks with their names on them out of a bucket.  The other says to choose only those students who volunteer, as calling on a student who doesn't know the answer can be stressful to that student.

You can probably guess which method I choose.  Go ahead, guess!

If you guessed the first method, you're right!  How can you know if a student understands the material if you don't do a "check for understanding"?  Yes, there are other ways to do a check for understanding, but calling on a student randomly is the quickest and most efficient.  I usually tell students I'm going to choose names, so they should chat with the person next to them for a moment to make sure they understand the question and answer before I choose.  That method eliminates most of the objections to the random method.

What if we made a game out of it, though?  You're the winner!  You get to answer the question!  Sure, I'd still do the "chat before I call on you" technique, but no one can say that this method isn't fair or random, especially since students can see my screen whether we're in class or online.

I think I'll add this to my teaching repertoire.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Face Masks Are Useless, Unless You're A Bank Robber

In this post from yesterday I asked where the studies were that showed face mask use is effective against the 'rona.  Just this morning I read about a study from Denmark:

Do face masks work? Last week, Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota decided that masks could play a significant role in stopping COVID-19 and made masks mandatory in a number of public places. Iowa soon followed suit, bringing the total number of states with mask mandates to 36. But are these policies backed by the scientific evidence?

Wednesday marked the publication of a long-delayed trial in Denmark which hopes to answer that very question. The ‘Danmask-19 trial’ was conducted in the spring with over 3,000 participants, when the public were not being told to wear masks but other public health measures were in place. Unlike other studies looking at masks, the Danmask study was a randomized controlled trial — making it the highest quality scientific evidence...

But overall, there is a troubling lack of robust evidence on face masks and COVID-19. There have only been three community trials during the current pandemic comparing the use of masks with various alternatives — one in Guinea-Bissau, one in India and this latest trial in Denmark. The low number of studies into the effect different interventions have on the spread of COVID-19 — a subject of global importance — suggests there is a total lack of interest from governments in pursuing evidence-based medicine...

The only trials which have shown masks to be effective at stopping airborne diseases have been ‘observational studies’ — which observe the people who ordinarily use masks, rather than attempting to create a randomized control group...

But observational studies are prone to recall bias: in the heat of a pandemic, not very many people will recall if and when they used masks and at what distance they kept from others. The lack of random allocation of masks can also ‘confound’ the results and might not account for seasonal effects. A recent observational study paper had to be withdrawn because the reported fall in infection rates over the summer was reverted when the seasonal effect took hold and rates went back up.

This is why large, randomized trials like this most recent Danish study are so important if we want to understand the impact of measures like face masks. Many people have argued that it is too difficult to wait for randomized trials — but Danmask-19 has shown that these kind of studies are more than feasible.

So what did the Danmask study show?

Around half of those in the trial received 50 disposable surgical face masks, which they were told to change after eight hours of use. After one month, the trial participants were tested using both PCR, antibody and lateral flow tests and compared with the trial participants who did not wear a mask.

In the end, there was no statistically significant difference between those who wore masks and those who did not when it came to being infected by COVID-19. Of those wearing masks, 1.8 percent caught COVID, compared to 2.1 percent of the control group. As a result, it seems that any effect masks have on preventing the spread of the disease in the community is small.

Some people, of course, did not wear their masks properly. Only 46 percent of those wearing masks in the trial said they had completely adhered to the rules. But even if you only look at people who wore masks ‘exactly as instructed’, this did not make any difference to the results: 2 percent of this group were also infected.

And now that we have properly rigorous scientific research we can rely on, the evidence shows that wearing masks in the community does not significantly reduce the rates of infection.

Science would indicate that you follow the data, not your own intuition.  What do the data tell us?

Thursday, November 19, 2020

How Many of The Owners and Employees Voted For California's Democrats?

People deserve the government they vote for, and they often get it, good and hard:

A running list of notable Bay Area restaurants and bars that have announced permanent closure...

It's an awfully long list.

Dumb As A Rock

I have a friend who often remarks that only educated people could be so stupid as to <insert stupidity here>.  He would be 100% correct in this instance:

The University of Wisconsin-Madison plans to remove a large rock from campus after students complained that it is a symbol of racism because it was referred to in a local newspaper in 1925 using a word regarded as a racial slur...

According to the State Journal, the 1925 news article is the only known instance of the offensive term being used.

That's right, folks--a boulder is racist.  A boulder's existence causes pain to black students.  Taypayer money will be spent because people used to refer to a boulder in racist terms.

Better make sure none of the stores on campus sells mixed nuts.  Besides the name being kind of toxic masculinity rape-y, wait till some Gen Z'er finds out what people used to call Brazil nuts.

More Science! In the Fight Against The 'Rona

I never in my most dystopian nightmares dreamed I'd live in a society where this could happen:
Nearly all Californians will be subject to a 10 p.m. curfew starting Saturday in an effort to curb spiking coronavirus infections, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office announced Thursday afternoon.

The curfew, which administration officials are calling a limited stay-at-home order but affects 94% of state residents, will cover only nonessential activities and will be in place nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

People will still be allowed to perform essential tasks like walking their dog, picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy or getting takeout at restaurants, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said. But nonessential businesses and activities will be prohibited. For example, restaurants will have to close their outdoor dining by 10 p.m. ...

The state plans to leave enforcement to local governments at first, Ghaly said. Some local elected officials are already balking at the order. Sacramento and El Dorado sheriff’s offices said they won’t enforce it.
FYI, Sacramento County is where Gruesome Newsom works. El Dorado County is the county in which he lives.
“Activities you normally do are higher risk today than they were a month ago,” because more people are infected across the state, Ghaly said during a press conference announcing the curfew. “This is going to help us stop the surge faster and avoid more severe restrictions.”

The goal is to curb spread of the coronavirus by reducing gatherings at night when most activities that take place are nonessential. By issuing the curfew now, Ghaly said the state hopes to keep case rates from escalating out of control and overwhelming hospitals.

For those of you for whom science! is so important, I have to ask:  where is the science! showing that at 10pm-5am curfew will have any effect?  What data is telling us that any measurable number of transmissions is occurring at night?  Is there any data showing differences in the numbers of cases before and after curfews were imposed in other jurisdictions?

It's good that county sheriffs are elected in California and don't report to the governor.  In many cases they may be our last line of defense against the tyranny of those who live to impose their will on the rest of us.  After that?  Gawd, I hope it's not civil war.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Masks and Lockdowns Are For the Politicians, Not For Your Health

It's been clear to anyone who believes data as opposed to their emotions that worldwide lockdowns haven't stopped the 'rona and masks haven't stopped the 'rona:

A recently completed research study by Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in cooperation with the Naval Medical Research Center and published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that strict quarantine, tightly controlled social distancing, and continuous use of masks did absolutely nothing to contain the spread of COVID-19, and might even have increased its spread...

None of these strict lock down mandates, including continuous mask use, did anything to prevent transmission.

The control and test groups were Marines, and whose compliance was thus highly supervised:

More significantly, the control group of Marines who did not participate in this study, and thus were not under the same strict lock down rules, actually saw fewer infections, as shown on the table from the study to the right. While the difference wasn’t very large, it existed nonetheless. One could argue that the overuse of masks probably contributed to the higher numbers in the study group, since even in this tightly controlled setting it is still impossible to expect people to wear masks properly. Even if they replaced them regularly, it is unrealistic to expect people to never touch them while they wear them. Over long periods the masks will become havens for the virus, where the person breathes.

The study also demonstrated once again the relative harmlessness of the disease. Almost all of these young healthy Marine recruits who tested positive were asymptomatic, meaning that they wouldn’t have even known they were infected if they had not been participating. Furthermore, it appears no one even got very sick.

Once again, this data continues to reinforce the very very early data from March. COVID-19 is not dangerous to the young or healthy, and it will spread no matter what you do. The best way to beat it and thus protect the vulnerable older and sick population is to have it spread as fast as possible through the young and healthy population, so that it will die out quickly and thus no longer be a threat.

The people imposing these restrictions on us aren't abiding by them, either:

I’ve seen this phenomenon called “the chump effect”: The rules only apply to the people who are willing to follow them, and you’re expected to shut your trap about anybody who doesn’t. You have to do what you’re told, even as you watch others flout the rules with no consequences. So you feel like a chump, and you resent it. If the rules don’t apply to everybody, why should they apply to anybody?

This is a really good way to break down a society.

So who benefits from these useless restrictions?  The people in power who get to impose them on the rest of us.


Because we have been doing distance teaching in my district all semester, and because our class time is about 40% less than in a regular school year, I had to cut how much material I teach in each of my classes.  In statistics, I used to teach 5 chapters in the first semester, but this year I won't test Chapter 4 until early December.  There won't be near enough time remaining to teach Chapter 5.

However, I can teach Chapter 9.  Chapter 9 is about correlation, and I can teach the rudiments of that material in the short time I'll have remaining in the semester after the Chapter 4 test.  Again, I won't be covering the material in depth, but I have to cut something, and this material seems as good as any other to skimp on.

I was preparing to make a Chapter 9 Section 1 instructional video today when I thought, "I taught this 2nd semester last year."  Late in the 2nd semester, like after the corona-shutdown.  When I was making videos from home.

So I checked on my YouTube channel and there they were, videos for Chapter 9 made from my kitchen table last spring.  I knew that making these videos would eventually pay off, and it just did--I now have all the stats videos I need for the remainder of the semester!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Clearly, Education Is Needed

To Kill A Mockingbird.  It's a story so powerful that years ago I bought the DVD so my son and I could watch it together.

Wasn't the whole point of the story the truth's triumph over racism, that even in injustice we can know the truth, and that it will eventually win out?  Not to clueless people.  No, the point is that racism is bad and children shouldn't read about it:

Schools in Burbank will no longer be able to teach a handful of classic novels, including Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, following concerns raised by parents over racism.

Middle and high school English teachers in the Burbank Unified School District received the news during a virtual meeting on September 9.

Until further notice, teachers in the area will not be able to include on their curriculum Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Theodore Taylor's The Cay and Mildred D. Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

Four parents, three of whom are Black, challenged the classic novels for alleged potential harm to the district's roughly 400 Black students.

Next up:  Jews complain that children read Anne Frank's Diary and Elie Wiesel's Night in school.

What's at least as discouraging as the clueless parents is that the school district caved in to them.

The Mask Stasi

It's true, and only lefties can support this

There are vague promises that things might begin to open again next year, but don’t hold your breath. “Two weeks to slow the spread” and “fifteen days to flatten the curve” have long since morphed into a semi-permanent nanny state in which the very act of slowing and flattening ensures that the virus will go on indefinitely by guaranteeing a continuous stream of new “cases” with which to frighten the public and increase government power. 

In defiance of all previous medical experience, the Covid “pandemic” has muzzled the population with bank-robber masks, driven families asunder, forced elderly couples to die apart, punished schoolchildren with the false promise of “remote learning,” made Americans eye each other with suspicion and sidle away, and created a near-Stasi level of rats and snitches only too happy to inform on their fellow citizens.

Prior to this I never would have believed Americans would surrender their freedoms so easily.  Remember the Ronald Reagan quote?

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Monday, November 16, 2020

Will We or Won't We?

 Our district is making plans to come back to school in January using a hybrid model (it's a hybrid of the worst of online schooling and the worst of in-person schooling).

But Sacramento County has slipped back into "purple", which according to the color code means we're one step from a zombie apocalypse of 'rona cases.

Somehow our district will be able to make its decision by December 15th.

So, will we half-heartedly come back in January, or won't we?  Your guess is as good as mine!


PS:  California's governor, Gruesome Newsom, has moved to nearby El Dorado County, where his children can attend in-person school.  Yes, same hypocrite:

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Friday that Newsom attended an outdoor birthday celebration for political adviser Jason Kinney with at least a dozen attendees at the French Laundry, an upscale restaurant in Napa Valley.

The report came the same day Newsom -- as well as Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee -- announced a travel advisory for visitors leaving and entering their respective states ahead of Thanksgiving as the state experiences a spike in COVID-19 cases.

The (Sacramento) Bee stung the Democratic governor with a scathing editorial slamming the tone-deaf soiree.

Rules are for the little people.

Update, 11/23/20:  The CDC won't back off on masks, but they're pretty strident that schools should open.  Why do they use data for one point of view but not the other?

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Random Pic

 Went to Apple Hill with a friend on Friday since we had a day off school:


Saturday, November 14, 2020

Who *Should* Be In Charge In Classrooms, Teachers or Students?

 The Southern Poverty Law Center has been on a moral decline for many years, but in recent years they've fallen off the cliff.  Case in point:

The Southern Poverty Law Center published an article documenting the ways in which white teachers "weaponize their whiteness" to harm black students.

The article, published by SPLC's "Teaching Tolerance" division, outlines how white people weaponize their "entitlement, anger, … need for retaliation, feigned fear and, finally, white fragility."

It suggests that teachers—particularly white, female teachers—can stop the weaponization of whiteness by relinquishing control of their classrooms when a student questions their authority. One teacher quoted in the piece says he has to "resist the urge to maintain power or control in [his] class, and especially to resist the anger that can bubble up in [him] when that control is called into question."

Ignoring the plethora of buzzwords and kooky ideas in the second paragraph/sentence, I want to focus on the third.  Relinquish control of their classrooms--what does that look like?  Does it look like Seattle's so-called "autonomous zone" of 2020, or perhaps Minneapolis or any of a dozen other cities during this past spring's riots?  If a teacher "relinquishes control", who is harmed by it?  I assert it's the other students, who obviously don't matter to the SPLC--and often, those other students are of the same race and are from the same neighborhood as those who act out in class.

I'm hard-pressed to think of a time in history where giving in to mob rule ended up being a net positive for a society, but that is exactly what the SPLC is suggesting.  The United Negro College Fund used to tell us that a mind is a terrible thing to waste, now the SPLC tells us to sacrifice that mind on the altar of so-called social justice.

I see no justice in doing so.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Idiot Administrator? You Decide.

 How does a principal get to make this decision, anyway?  They're not his kids.

Jessie Thompson's kids, ages 9, 10 and 11, would like to walk home together, but James H. Spann Elementary School in Summerville, South Carolina, won't let them leave without an adult.

When Thompson asked if she could sign some sort of waiver, the assistant principal told her: "Students will not be allowed to walk home by themselves." If an adult does not pick them up, the kids must take the bus. The bus ride actually takes longer than the 20 minute walk. Moreover, in the era of COVID-19, walking is arguably safer—and certainly more comfortable.

While other elementary schools in the area allow kids to walk home, Principal Shane Sanford put his foot down and the school district backed him up. In response, Thompson hired an attorney, Ashley Ameika, who wrote the district on October 14, imploring them to reverse course. The school has refused to change its policy.

When I called Sanford last week, I was forwarded to the district's public information officer, Pat Raynor, who said, "I cannot go into specifics because of family privacy." Well, what about a generic family wanting their kids to walk home, I asked.

"I will say just that in general the policies and guidelines in place for our schools regarding the safety of our children and staff depend on things such as the location of the school," Raynor replied. Sanford apparently believes the streets around his school are too dangerous for children to navigate.

Strange Calendar Settings

 There's a tech company out there, perhaps you've heard of them, whose software runs a lot of phones--including mine.

So when I look at the calendar on my phone, I see "reminders" on certain days.  For example, in this month Election Day and Indigenous Peoples Day are identified.  If there's a way to turn these off, I haven't found it yet.

You know what holidays are not on that calendar?  Veterans Day and Thanksgiving.

I looked in December and Christmas isn't shown, either.  Who determines what events are shown on this calendar, and why?

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Thank You

 My mother, her friend, and I, veterans all, went to the local Texas Roadhouse for their free Veterans Day lunch.  It was a drive-thru pick-up for veterans, and the line of cars snaking through the parking lot went quickly.  The two entrees to choose from were chicken breast or pulled pork, along with corn, baked beans, and a dinner roll.  It's always easy to be a big tipper when the meal is free!

Thank you, Texas Roadhouse.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The Holiday Season Is Upon Us

The school year is a little longer now than it was when I was in school, but in my district we start the school year super early, in mid-August.  Why, you ask?  To accommodate all the days off!

Days off start coming at us fast and furious now:

Veterans Day (tomorrow)

Used to be an optional Professional Development day, now just a random day off (Friday)

Thanksgiving week

Christmas/New Year

Dr. King's birthday

Ski Week in February

And all of that occurs between now and the end of February!  

Spring Break occurs in March or April each year, but that's too late to include in the rush of holidays above.

Evaluating Teachers In the Time of the 'Rona

 From the National Council on Teacher Quality:

While states and school districts are focused on trying to bring students back into the classroom, it's safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our education system, including how to properly evaluate teachers in the classroom—or in a Zoom setting.

As part of NCTQ's ongoing research on COVID-19 related education policies, our latest installment tracks how states will proceed with evaluating teachers for the 2020-2021 school year. This analysis examines topics such as whether summative evaluations will be required, whether states that required objective measures of student growth prior to the pandemic will continue to require them this year, and whether any modifications have been made to the measure of professional practice.

As of mid-October, nearly half of all states have released plans regarding teacher evaluation for the 2020-2021 school year. Although state guidance varies to a certain degree, there are some overall trends worth noting.

See the data and analysis on:

  • State guidance for teacher evaluation in SY20-21: Of the 24 states that have released guidance thus far, 21 are still requiring summative evaluations for all teachers.
  • Requirements for measures of student growth during the pandemic: Nine states have suspended the use of student growth measures for this school year, while others have modified requirements around what constitutes measures of student growth.
  • Examples of how states are addressing teacher observations this year: Several states have announced changes in the number of required observations or even what qualifies as an observation.
Read more here.

Monday, November 09, 2020

Hoping It's A Smooth Week At Work

With Veterans Day occurring on Wednesday, we get Wednesday off instead of a long weekend.  In previous years, the week of Veterans Day has included an "optional professional development day", where anyone who wanted a couple hundred extra dollars could get it by attending some (usually worthless) training put on or paid for by our district.  No optional PD day this Friday, but no work for secondary teachers, either.  Yay us!  (Elementary teachers will get the first Monday after New Years off, but it will be a "grading final exams and submitting grades" day for secondary teachers--so it all evens out.)

So I only work Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday this week.  It's finally feeling like autumn around here, with a small probability of rain this Friday.  I think I'll go back up to Apple Hill on Friday.

Sunday, November 08, 2020

This Post From 4 Years Ago Has Aged Extremely Well

To Our Friends On The Left: What, Exactly, Are You Afraid Of?

They were afraid of things they thought President Trump would do, but that he never actually contemplated.

I'm concerned about things Joe Hindenburg has actually said he would do. 

Yes, I Believe The Democrats Cheated

Opposition to President Trump brought the Democratic Party to banana republic levels of vote fraud.  Yes, Democrats, the rest of the world is laughing at us, but not just for the reasons you think:

"Regardless of the outcome, one thing is absolutely clear," Khamenei wrote. "The definite political, civil, & moral decline of the US regime." 

It's not often I agree with the Iranian government, but in this case they're right.

The BBC told us 4 years ago what election fraud looks like:

Watch the turnout figures ‒ they can be a big giveaway.
You never get a 98% or 99% turnout in an honest election. You just don't...
Even where the turnout is within the bounds of possibility, if the figure is wildly different from the turnout elsewhere, it serves as a warning...
And if there are more papers in the boxes than were issued by the polling staff, it is highly likely that someone has been doing some "stuffing"...
It is now standard practice to allow party agents, observers and sometimes even voters to watch the counting process and take photographs of the results sheet with their phones.
They then have proof of the genuine results from their area ‒ just in case the ones announced later by the electoral commission don't match...
Delay is certainly dangerous, fuelling rumours of results being "massaged" before release and increasing tensions, but this is not incontrovertible proof of rigging.  
Does any of this sound familiar?

And lastly, I've said in a previous post that there are certainly some statistical "anomalies".  I've heard of Benford's Law before, and here it is applied to the election results:

As the vote counting for the 2020 Presidential Election continues, various facts suggest rampant frauds in Joe Biden’s votes. So does mathematics in terms of the votes from precincts.

Benford’s law or the first-digit law, is used to check if a set of numbers are naturally occurring or manually fabricated. It has been applied to detect the voting frauds in Iranian 2009 election and various other applications including forensic investigations.

As I recall, Barack Obama's team fired a polling firm when statistics showed they were making up data.  While statistics aren't flawless, I give them a lot of weight.  And when Milwaukee County, Chicago, and Pittsburgh all look shady, well, I believe there was shade.

So I will state here, for the record, that I believe the Democrats cheated.  A Biden presidency would be illegitimate.  That doesn't mean I'm going to go burn down cities in a temper tantrum--no, Republicans don't do that.  But unity?  Coming together?  Does anyone remember "the Resistance" of the last 4 years?

If President Trump loses his legal challenges, our neo-Hindenburg president will be a disaster--not just that I'll disagree with his policies, but he will be bad for America.  Jobs, gas prices, general inflation, foreign policy, all a disaster.  Economically we had 4 years of the good life, I don't see how it can continue.

I know the lefties will enjoy their win.  They'll trash-talk--I get that, I trash-talked 4 years ago, too.  But remember the old saying:  winners never cheat.  And that's because they don't have to.  The Democrats had to.

Update:  It wasn't the Obama team that fired the polling firm Research 2000 back in 2010, it was Daily Kos who fired them.

Saturday, November 07, 2020

"Diversity Training" Is Terrible

I have nothing to add to this article.  It's well-written, well-sourced, and just plain right:

In wake of George Floyd’s murder and the protests that followed, many colleges and universities have been rolling out new training requirements – often oriented towards reducing biases and encouraging people from high-status groups to ‘check their privilege.’  The explicit goal of these training programs is generally to help create a more positive and welcoming institutional environment for people from historically marginalized and underrepresented groups.

As I have explained elsewhere, there is a long literature on the benefits of diversity on knowledge production.* However, many of the approaches to training people how to navigate and utilize diversity were implemented by corporations, non-profits and universities before their effectiveness had been tested rigorously (if at all).**

Beginning in the mid-90s, it became increasingly clear that, due to this lack of validation, many widely-used interventions could be ineffective or harmful. An empirical literature was built up measuring the effectiveness of diversity-related training programs. The picture that has emerged is not very flattering.

The article addresses unconscious bias/implicit bias  and microaggressions training, points out the flaws in such training, and identifies the negative consequences of such training.  

Even if your heart is pure, and you genuinely believe that such training is important to organizations and should help people work better together, the conclusions of studies about the actual effectiveness of such training are inescapable:

However, when scientists set about to investigate whether the programs actually changed behaviors, i.e. do they reduce expressions of bias, do they reduce discrimination, do they foster greater collaboration across groups, do they help with retaining employees from historically marginalized or underrepresented groups, do they increase productivity or reduce conflicts in the workplace — for all of these behavioral metrics, the metrics that actually matter, not only is the training ineffective, it is often counterproductive.

Science would indicate that you should believe the data, not your intuition. 

(And for those of you for whom this kinda stuff is important, look at the author's name.)


 When I got home from work on Thursday, nothing seemed unusual.  I'd relax, which a documentary or two, then go to bed.  Everything normal.

Then I checked my email. I'd gotten one of those "you have a new relative" emails from 23&Me.  A woman from San Luis Obispo, who genetically appears to be a 2nd cousin of mine (we share the same great-grandparents), had messaged me to find out what I knew about our shared relatives because her dad's birth certificate says "father unknown".  Family talk had a name for this biological grandfather of hers.

That name, and the genetic map from 23&Me, point to my grandmother's younger brother.  

So I started texting my mother, as this "unknown" man would be her uncle.  Then we switched to the phone.  The call ended close to midnight.

I was tired yesterday, as you might imagine, since I wake up at 5am!  I didn't stay very late at 7th Period (our term for happy hour), coming home early.  When I started dozing off while watching tv, I decided just to turn the thing off and go to bed.  That was shortly after 8 pm!

Woke up around 6 this morning.  Sleep is wonderful!

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Thanks, But No Thanks

I turned 55 this year.  That makes me old enough to retire as a teacher.

I didn't start teaching until I was 32, so this is my 24th year.  I don't complain about my pay, but I'm taking that calculus class in order to get "hours" (extra "professional development" on my own time) so as to move over on the salary schedule.  If I stay on track, I'll complete my extra 150 hrs this school year and will get a $4900 raise next year, just in time for the pay cuts that have to be coming due to decreased tax revenue from the coronashutdown.

Last year, all of us who would be 55 by the end of the school year were notified about a so-called golden handshake that would be coming our way--an offer with "a little sugar" to entice us to retire.  Because I'm relatively young, mine was very little sugar.  And despite my years of service and current pay, my age is what makes my retirement pay so low.  The extra couple hundred a month wasn't enough.

Today as I left my classroom, my phone started downloading all my text messages.  Turns out one of our teachers, who's 62, got another offer today.  It was completely unexpected, he hadn't been told it was coming, and there's been no scuttlebutt this year about golden handshakes.  His was a pretty good offer, he's probably going to take it.  He and I talked about it my entire drive home.

About 2/3 of the way home, I thought, "Wait a minute, if he got one, I probably got one, too."  As I drove up to my house, there was a tall white envelope sticking up out of my mailbox.  Sure enough, I got one, too.  I opened it.  So much paper, so many different colored sheets!  We were still on the phone, so he told me exactly what page to turn to in order to see my offer.

It's not enough.  This offer was, again, only a teaspoon of sugar,  just over $200/month additional.  This would amount to less than 8% additional, and the total just isn't enough in California to make it worth my while.

Retirement is nice to fantasize about, but I know I have several more years to go.  My plan has been to teach until I'm 63; when the Class of 2028 graduates, so do I, and they're 5th graders now.  I should probably stick to that plan, at least until that teaspoon of sugar turns into a cup.

A Nice Lunch

One of our young teachers is moving back in with her parents this weekend.  She makes respectable money, but with rents as high as they are, she can't save as much as she'd like for a down payment on a house.

She told us that she can't take her food with her--there's no room at her parents' for it!  (I'd find room if it were my kid, but whatever!)  Perhaps she can donate unopened packaged food, but there is plenty of open/perishable foodstuffs that would have to be thrown out.

So we had a potluck today.  She made what's called "Million dollar spaghetti", which was like a spaghetti casserole--oh, the cheese!  I brought french bread and garlic butter, another teacher brought homemade chocolate chip cookies, another brought soft drinks, and another brought a Caesar salad.  It was quite the feast.

I ate so much, I can't imagine I'll eat dinner tonight.

And there's still plenty of casserole and soft drinks for lunch tomorrow.  

I work with a pretty good crew of people.

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Last Night's Election

I'm content to let the courts settle the outcome.  No matter who wins, half the country will think the other half cheated.  Where did those mystery 200,000 Biden votes in Michigan come from?  Did Wisconsin really have more votes than registered voters, as I read today?  Now the lawyers for both sides earn their money.

California's statewide propositions are a little more sure.  The results will not be certified until December 11th, whatever that means, but here are current results from the Secretary of State's web site:

Uber, Lyft, and Doordash are big winners (Prop 22).   Prop 15 would have been the camel's nose under the tent of eliminating Prop 13 (1978) protections, and while it lost, it didn't lose by a comfortable enough margin.  Prop 14 is a continued waste of money, and Prop 17 is an unneeded "gift" of more Democratic voters.  An unnecessary additional cost on kidney dialysis facilities (Prop 23) failed by almost 2:1, which is nice.

Keep an eye on these.  If I recall correctly, the last time we voted for Superintendent of Public Instruction, my guy had won--but a couple days later the numbers had changed and CTA's candidate won.  I'm hoping most of these results hold up, YMMV.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Might Do Something I've Never Done Before

I might stay up and watch election returns tonight.  I missed the excitement of 2016, maybe tonight will be the same.

Update, before 5pm PST:  Well, that didn't last long.  Maybe it's too early, but it was too much talking and maybe-ing and not enough information.  I'll find out in the morning.

Update #2, 7:45pm PST:  I'm so tired that I'm going to bed.  Guess I'll find out in the morning how things went--things look pretty even right now, as both sides have "pathways to 270".  Here's hoping my guy wins!

Update #3, 6:30am PST:  Considering how things look this morning, it's probably good that I got what restless sleep I did!  The only good news seems to be that Republicans are going to hold the Senate and might even increase their numbers in the House.

Monday, November 02, 2020

Lest They Try To Tell You Different

It's important to remember what are facts and what are people's twisting of facts for political gain.  Do the statements in this abstract seem realistic to you?  They do to me:


On March 8, 2010, one year into the Obama Administration, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave a passionate speech in which he asserted (correctly) that African-American students are the subjects of school discipline at higher rates than white students. Although he did not mention it, it is also true that white students are the subjects of school discipline at higher rates than Asian American students and that male students are disciplined at higher rates than female students.

In response to the racial disparity he identified, Duncan promised that the Department of Education would be stepping up its enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the years that followed, the Department of Education made good on that promise by opening numerous investigations based on statistical disparities. On January 18, 2014, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice jointly issued a “Dear Colleague Letter” on school discipline in which they asserted that the law prohibits not only actual discrimination in discipline on the basis of race, but also what they called “unjustified” disparate impact.

In Part I of this article, we point out that there are two sides to the “disparate impact” coin. The Department of Education has focused only upon the fact that, as a group, African-American students are suspended and expelled more often than other students. By failing to consider the other side of the coin — that African-American students may be disproportionately victimized by disorderly classrooms — its policy threatens to do more harm than good even for the group Secretary Duncan was trying to help. In Part II, we discuss the Department of Education’s enforcement policy toward school discipline in greater detail, its over-reliance on racial disparate impact, and how that over-reliance pushes some schools to violate Title VI’s ban on race discrimination rather than honor it. In Part III, we elaborate on why school discipline is important and present evidence that the Department of Education’s policy has contributed to the problem of disorderly classrooms, especially in schools with high minority student enrollment. In Part IV, we discuss how aggregate racial disparities in discipline do not in themselves show the discrimination against African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians that some proponents of the Department of Education’s policy claim. Rather, the evidence shows that they are the result of differences in behavior. In Part V, we explain why the Department of Education’s disparate impact policy is not just wrong-headed, but also unauthorized by law.

Keywords: School discipline, suspension, disparate impact, Title VI, Department of Education, guidance, Dear Colleague Letter