Monday, May 31, 2021

Why Eliminate College Entry Tests?

The University of California system is no longer requiring students to submit SAT/ACT scores.  Why?

Without standardized testing, it would be difficult to prove the weight given to race in admissions.

I would guess that's a big reason right there. 

Yet, the University of California's own Standardized Testing Task Force found value in SAT/ACT results:

The Task Force did not find standardized testing to be unreliable or call for its abandonment, however.

Instead, its final report concluded that “At UC, test scores are currently better predictors of first-year GPA than high school grade point average (HSGPA), and about as good at predicting first-year retention, [University] GPA, and graduation.” Not only that, it found: “Further, the amount of variance in student outcomes explained by test scores has increased since 2007 … Test scores are predictive for all demographic groups and disciplines … In fact, test scores are better predictors of success for students who are Underrepresented Minority Students (URMs), who are first generation, or whose families are low-income.” In other words, test scores remain the best indicator for continued performance in college.

This is yet another attack on excellence, as I described most recently here.

The elimination of scores has a pronounced impact on students. While it will likely allow for greater diversity in admissions, it also removes a way for students to distinguish themselves in actual testing of their knowledge of math, English and other subjects. Yes, there are other ways to distinguish themselves, like community service and high school projects. Yet, as found by the UC task force, these tests do have a predictive value on success. Indeed, at a time when the United States is losing ground on math and science, the elimination of such testing could undermine our competitive position in a global economy; countries like China demand high levels of objective performance in areas like math and science.

There is an alternative. Rather than eliminate standardized scores due to the disparity in performance of racial groups, we should focus on improving the performance of minority high school students in these areas.

Suggesting that we help low-scoring, often minority students improve their performance will soon, if it's not already, be a no-go because it "comes from a deficit perspective", an idea that if we don't automatically assume all students are great at everything, we're somehow causing them harm and are probably being white supremacists in the process. 

We as a society need to admit that there are certain cultures and subcultures that value education more than others do, and that if we want all students to succeed in the mass/common culture, those cultures are going to have to change their values and raise their standards rather than expecting the mass/common culture to lower its standards.  Pretending there isn't a problem isn't going to make things better.

Eliminating standardized scores will not erase true racial disparities in our educational system. Indeed, it may only exacerbate them.

This proposed "cure" is far worse than the disease.  Refusing a mammogram or a colonoscopy won't keep you from having cancer.

So why do you think so many are and have been pushing to eliminate the use of college entry tests?

This Does Not Shock Me

With the left it's always "do as I say, not as I do":

According to a new study of tech companies that made pledges to support the black lives matter movement, those companies actually employed fewer black employees on average than companies that didn’t take any public stance. That comes despite the supporting companies making a combined $4.6 billion in financial commitments to the cause.

As Bloomberg reports:

A new study of diversity in the technology industry found companies that made statements of solidarity had 20% fewer Black employees on average than those that didn’t. The finding highlights a gap between what companies say about social issues and what they do in their own workplaces, said Stephanie Lampkin, the founder and chief executive officer of Blendoor, which conducted the study.

I'd be far more surprised if any of them lived up to the stupidity they spout.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

West Point Entrance Exam

This book is from 1917.  Scroll down to page 319 to see West Point's entrance exam from then.  Holy crap! While I knew much and now know much more, I doubt I could have passed such a test cold at age 18--and perhaps even now!  I'd have to study, especially the sections on grammar and literature.  And to be honest, I'm not even sure what the third question in the Algebra section is asking, as there's no exponent on the binomial.

It's a pretty impressive test, and those that pass it (as teenagers!) would be impressive people.

You Know You're Old When...

...you're (1) reading an atlas (2) with a magnifying glass.  How did they make some of that print so small?

It's all in pursuit of a great goal, though--this summer's lengthy road trip!

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Mask Mandates Didn't Work

Well, actually, they did work--if the goal was to compel and control the populace.  They didn't work if "work" means having a significant impact on the spread of the 'rona:

Background Containment of the COVID-19 pandemic requires evidence-based strategies to reduce transmission. Because COVID-19 can spread via respired droplets, many states have mandated mask use in public settings. Randomized control trials have not clearly demonstrated mask efficacy against respiratory viruses, and observational studies conflict on whether mask use predicts lower infection rates. We hypothesized that statewide mask mandates and mask use are associated with lower COVID-19 case growth rates in the United States...

Results Case growth was not significantly different between mandate and non-mandate states at low or high transmission rates, and surges were equivocal. Mask use predicted lower case growth at low, but not high transmission rates. Growth rates were comparable between states in the first and last mask use quintiles adjusted for normalized total cases early in the pandemic and unadjusted after peak Fall-Winter infections. Mask use did not predict Summer 2020 case growth for non-Northeast states or Fall-Winter 2020 growth for all continental states.

Conclusions Mask mandates and use are not associated with slower state-level COVID-19 spread during COVID-19 growth surges. Containment requires future research and implementation of existing efficacious strategies.

When the facts contradict your expectations, believe the facts.

Link.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Taxes

I’ll earn my higher-than-US-average pay in California, and as soon as I retire, will move to a significantly cheaper state to spend that retirement money.

https://fee.org/articles/here-are-the-10-states-where-you-ll-pay-the-highest-lifetime-taxes/

Electric Cars

True?  Exaggerated?  Entirely made-up propaganda?  You decide:

The birthplace of most electric cars is the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country where the diamond trade has helped finance civil war. There, reports the Deseret News, “slave labor” is feeding “big tech’s quest for cobalt,” an element used in the batteries that drive EVs.

“Our children are dying like dogs,” a Congolese mother whose son and cousin died while working in the Congo’s cobalt mines, says the Deseret News. She and others have filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court that “insists companies are simply turning a blind eye to the egregious abuses that include children killed in tunnel collapses or losing limbs or suffering from other horrific injuries caused by mining accidents.”

 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

A Rose By Any Other Name

The polar equation r=a cos n(theta) graphs what's called a rose.  If n is even, the graph has 2n "petals".  If n is odd, the graph has n "petals".  Here are two rose graphs and their equations, graphed at desmos.com/calculator:

click to enlarge graphs


 

What is the equation of a rose with 6 petals?

 

(I started solving this with the belief that the answer lies in an equation with an absolute value sign, but I haven't been able to make that work yet.  I stumbled on a solution today, but it's not entirely satisfying.)

Monday, May 24, 2021

California's Proposed Math Framework--Chapter 1

My previous post on the proposed California math framework focused on Chapter 2.  I did that because I wanted to emphasize the race-based nature of the document. 

That's not the only thing wrong with the framework, though.  Chapter 1, the introduction to the framework, should be subtitled An Assault on Excellence.  It seems that the philosophy is "if everyone can't excel, no one can."  We'd never impose such a philosophy on something important--like sports--but math?  No problem, tear it down.

In a recent post, education blogger Joanne Jacobs wrote:

Once, California insisted that schools teach algebra in eighth grade in the name of equity: All students would have access to classes leading to 12th-grade calculus and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The state’s proposed mathematics framework, which may be ratified this summer, would delay algebra till high school and calculus till college.

Putting all math students in the slow lane will hurt high achievers without helping anyone else, argues Bill Evers of the Independent Institute, a former U.S. assistant secretary of Education, in the Wall Street Journal.

California's 1997 math standards had 8th grade students take Algebra 1 so they could be ready to take calculus in high school; this was done in the name of equity.  Today, keeping students out of calculus in high school is proposed in the name of equity. Which version of equity has the best interests of students in mind?

The word calculus is used 23 times in this chapter, just about all of them disparagingly.  The first few pages of the proposed framework dive into so-called social justice--and why calculus in high school is bad.  "Calculus" is a stand-in for "excellence".  Page 16 refers to a "rush to calculus" and also quotes from an MAA/NCTM joint statement:

the ultimate goal of the K-12 mathematics curriculum should not be to get students into and through a course in calculus by twelfth grade but to have established the mathematical foundation that will enable students to pursue whatever course of study interests them when they get to college.

It should be antithetical for those of us in education to hold students back from learning as much as they can.  But holding back students in pursuit of a political goal is exactly what this proposed framework does.   We should be providing the best education possible to all of our students, not punishing top performers because of the skin color of most of those top performers.  We should establish a strong mathematical foundation and allow students to accelerate to calculus.  It's possible in other countries, it's possible in other states--why only in California is achievement to be looked down upon?

"[S]tudents do not do well when rushed through mathematics courses", we read on p. 16.  I agree with that.  On the other hand, though, there's a difference between accelerating and rushing, and we should be doing the former for those who are capable of learning at a faster rate.

It gets worse on p. 17, where we read:

All students can take Common Core-aligned mathematics 6, 7, and 8 in middle school and still take calculus, data science, statistics, or other high-level courses in high school.

How?  If all students are to take the same classes in middle school, with no option of acceleration, then high school offers Integrated Math 1/Algebra 1, IM2/Geometry, IM3/Algebra 2, and then a pre-calculus/trig course.  How do they get to calculus, where do they accelerate?  Won't they have to rush? 

This framework doesn't change the math standards (Common Core) at all, it merely focuses educators on race.  Does anyone truly believe that keeping students together in the same middle school math classes, not allowing any student to accelerate in math until high school, is going to improve math education? 

When they get to high school, students will still be encumbered.  Page 6 tells us:

...changing the high-school level mathematics remains a critical component to opening mathematics doorways for all students.

Page 8 tells us:

A fundamental aim of this framework is to respond to issues of inequity in mathematics learning.
The framework seems fixated on the achievement gap, but its poor attempt at a solution reminds me of this exchange:


"He'd rather the poor were poorer, provided the rich were less rich."  The authors of this framework are ok with a smaller achievement gap, even if their means of doing so only penalizes the top students and does nothing for the lowest students.  (You do yourself a grave disservice if you don't watch the full 2:33, as Mrs. Thatcher even describes the gap.)

Chapter 1 opens by telling us that "mathematics has a history of exclusion and filtering, rather than inclusion and welcome...Girls and Black and Brown children, notably, represent groups that more often receive messages that they are not capable of high-level mathematics, compared to their White and male counterparts...."  Shortly thereafter we encounter the term "Latinx", a term that even NPR tells us only 3% of US Latino adults use.  This is not a balanced document; it was written by far-left-leaning people for whom race, not math, is the priority, and it will be imposed on your children, not theirs.  It's filled with the same old prescriptions--discovery learning!  culturally-responsive math!  investigations!  open-ended questions!  no right or wrong answers!--that have long been proposed by "fuzzy math" advocates but that only harm students.

It's hard to disagree with this:

The new 2021 Mathematics Framework, currently under consideration by California’s Department of Education, does away “with all tracking, acceleration, gifted programs, or any instruction that involves clustering by individual differences, without expressing any awareness of the impact these drastic alterations would have in preparing STEM-ready candidates.” Readjustments in this direction are happening in other states, too. These measures will not only hinder the progress of the generations of our future STEM workforce but also contribute to structural inequalities, as they are uniquely detrimental to students whose parents cannot send them to private schools or effective enrichment programs. Children stuck with this low-quality education are rarely prepared for higher education and employment in STEM.

These are just a few examples of an unprecedented fervor for revolutionary change in the name of Critical Race Theory (CRT), a doctrine that views the world as a fierce battleground for the narratives of various identity groups. This will only lead to a further widening of racial disparities in educational outcomes while lowering American children’s rankings in education internationally.

The suggestions in this framework should not be taken seriously by anyone who wants to improve math education.

I never thought I'd see the day when racism is so close to being injected into math instruction.  People of good conscience must put a stop to it here and now.  I thought I'd end this post with some applicable quotes--some attributed, some not--and ask you to consider them as you ponder the impact of this proposed document:


When they can't give you good government, they give you "woke" government.  When they can't give you good education, they give you "woke" education. 

 

It is the end game of their ideology. Norms divide, so all norms must be oppressive. All norms must be destroyed. ... it’s not all norms. It’s all higher values. That’s even worse. And I believe these are the direct targets: quality itself, competence itself, excellence itself.

—Jordan B Peterson

 

Wokeness is a weapon of privilege. Wokeness is not really about fairness for minorities, the oppressed and the poor, past or present. It is mostly a self-confessional cult of anointed bullies, and hypocrites of all races and genders, who seek to flex, and increase, their own privilege and power. Period.

—Victor David Hansen 

 

Wokeness is the state religion of the oligarchs. Wokeness is not about taking power from The Man. Wokeness is The Man’s way of securing his power over the rest of us. 

—Glenn Reynolds 

 

The allure of being a powerful victim is too great for most humans to deny. It’s seductive because it’s easy. Victimhood undermines principles of hard work & self-discipline & replaces them with entitlement & blame. The power is an illusion and the price is our agency. 

—Bridget Phetasy

Update, 5/29/21Here's a good analysis of the proposed framework.  Read the whole thing:

Rooted in Profound Anti-intellectualism, Elitism, Racial and
Gender Prejudice, the 2021 CMF Threatens to Undermine
Math Learning for All Students and Leave Disadvantaged
Ones Permanently Behind.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Making Summer Plans

I've been charging up the credit card and making reservations for this summer, and will spend a few days at Freedom Fest 2021.  See you there?

Friday, May 21, 2021

Meeting Them Where They Are

I teach two Financial Math classes.  The first semester is really financial literacy, as there's no math involved, and in the second semester we do a few calculations.

Some of my students are there because they want to learn some financial literacy, how to do their taxes, etc.  Some are there because they need a 2nd year of math in order to meet graduation requirements, and it took them awhile to pass that first year.

Yesterday we were reviewing for the final exam.  Some of the problems (commission, tax rates, employee share of health insurance costs) involve percentages, an elementary school topic that unfortunately more than a couple students never mastered.  Sure, you and I know when to move the decimal point two places to the left or to the right, and why, but to some students that's just magic math they've never truly understood.  And that's sad.

If they haven't learned it some time since 4th grade, I doubt I'd be able to teach it in any meaningful way.  Besides, the rest of the class can handle decimals and percentages, and that's not really my curriculum.  At this point, decimals and percentages are not ends unto themselves but are tools by which we get answers to more meaningful questions.  It's long past the time to be teaching and learning how to use the tool.

But several questions on my final exam do involve percentages (see above), and I want to give my students a fighting chance--and maybe help them in the process.  So I spent several seconds explaining percentages.

"Per cent".  There are 100 cents in a dollar, and 100 years in a century.  "Per cent" means "out of 100".  If you forget that, you can see the 1 and 2 zeroes in the % sign!  So 6% means "6 out of 100", or 6/100.  A realtor's 6% commission on a $500,000 house means we want 6% of 500,000.  To find that, we convert 6% to 6/100 and multiply that by 500,000.  On the calculator: 6 divided by 100 times 500,000.

Most students can handle 6%, even converting to decimals.  What about Medicare's 1.45% tax rate?  That's a little more confusing to those who haven't mastered the use of decimals.  Not anymore!  Per cent means "out of 100", so 1.45 divided by 100 times whatever.  Everything's consistent, everything's easy.

I actually got a couple Zoom chat messages thanking me for explaining it this way, because now it "makes sense".  I don't believe that, really; what they meant was that I've made the tool easier for them to use so they can solve the more meaningful problems and understand the answer to those.  

I doubt they truly understand the math, but they can use it--and for some students, that's enough.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Those Neanderthals Must've Been Pretty Smart

"The science" people at the CDC now say that at least the vaccinated don't need to wear a mask pretty much anywhere.  They're a little behind Governor Abbott of Texas, but hey, better late than never and welcome to the party:

Texas has a lot to celebrate this week after reaching zero COVID deaths for the first time since the pandemic began. 

"Today Texas reported: * 0 Covid related deaths--the only time that's happened since data was tracked in March, 2020," Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted on Sunday night. "* the fewest Covid cases in over 13 months * the lowest 7-day Covid positivity rate ever * the lowest Covid hospitalizations in 11 months. Thanks, Texans!"

Perhaps most surprised by the Lone Star State's dramatic drop in COVID cases and deaths are his critics who slammed Abbott's decision back in March to fully reopen his state.

His critics went far beyond Democrats, who surely made themselves vocal in opposition to Texas' reopening with President Biden calling it "Neanderthal thinking" and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke slamming the "death warrant for Texas" while accusing the governor of "killing the people of Texas."

Perhaps the biggest pushback Abbott faced was from the media.  link

It's too bad that those who've made a living out of scaring people with virus porn will not pay a penalty for doing so.

Can't "Do" Math

Nearly a third of adults say they struggle with everyday maths and try to avoid situations involving numbers, a survey suggests. 

Meanwhile, 39% also say trying to figure out maths problems makes them feel anxious. 

The poll, commissioned by charity National Numeracy, found 31% of the 2,000 adults surveyed struggled with basic problems and 29% would avoid doing maths.  link

I know what let's do!  Let's just not teach math and teach race-hatred instead! That appears to be the California approach, anyway.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

California's Proposed Math Framework--Chapter 2

A couple weeks ago I wrote about California's proposed race-based math framework.  That post gave just an overview, and now I will start to go into much more detail.  It will take me a few days of writing to do justice to this topic, so I guess I'd better get started.

Here is the link to the proposed framework.  In case the link disappears, or different material appears at the link, here's a screen shot of the relevant parts:

 

The first thing to notice is the title of the 13 chapters.  Two of the 13 chapter titles reference "equity" or a variant, which tells you that this is a race-focused "social justice" document.  If the titles referenced "quality" or "improving achievement", I might be genuinely interested in their contents.  But you would have to be clueless or disingenuous not to know that "equity" as it's used in education today is a reference to the achievement gap between mostly whites and Asians at one end of the performance spectrum, and black and Hispanic students at the other end--and about how this disparity implies "systemic racism".

This is a race-based document, one that denigrates actual math achievement and is focused on pitting people of different races against each other.

You may think that statement sounds harsh or hyperbolic, but I will demonstrate that it true.  On her own blog today, Joanne posted that Making Math Easier Isn't Equity and The War on Merit Hurts Students.  Both of these statements are true and are applicable to this post.

Chapter 2 is called Teaching for Equity and Engagement.  I read it entirely.  It had a lot of vignettes in it, and for awhile it seemed the chapter was going to be mostly about engaging students.  There were warning signs, though, like this from page 2:

A focus on equity recognizes that mathematics, over the years, has developed in a way that has excluded many students (see Chapter 1).  Because of these inequities, teachers need to work consciously to counter racialized or gendered ideas about mathematics achievement...It is common for people to claim that avoiding aspects of race, culture, gender, or other characteristics as they teach mathematics, means they are being equitable; but the evolution of mathematics in educational settings has resulted in dramatic inequities for students of color, girls, and students from low income homes...

I don't accept their solution, though, of steering away from math and towards racial hatred.  Why do I think that's where it's headed?  Because 29 pages into Chapter 2 I get to a subheading called Teach Toward Social Justice:

Mathematics has traditionally been viewed as a neutral discipline, which has occluded possibilities for students to develop more personal and powerful relationships to mathematics and has led too many students to believe mathematics is not for them.

Mathematics is a tool, nothing more.  In that way it's like a pencil or a hammer.  You either learn how to use it well or you don't.  Its value comes in how it's used--and as you are well aware, I'm not a fan of so-called social justice.  To the authors of this document there are no right and wrong answers--in fact, we should "[remove] the high stakes of errors".  Without errors, there is no learning.  What are the "high stakes"?  There's more:

Learning is not just a matter of gaining new knowledge--it is also about a change in identity.  As teachers introduce mathematics to students, they are helping them shape their identity as people...

I call complete and total BS on that.  It's a lot of words meaning nothing--but it provides a wedge to slip in the social Marxism:

Students from social groups that have been historically affiliated with the discipline of mathematics can come to have undue influence over those from social groups not stereotypically associated with mathematics...

What they're talking about is that white and Asian boys--but I want to see data on the performance of other groups in schools.  It's rare that I have a class in which the highest perform is not a girl.  Chapter 2 gives us more:

allow native and home language use

and

Use discourse as a means to disrupt structures and language that marginalize students.

I'm not a polyglot.  In my training I learned it was unreasonable to expect students to act as interpreters.  How am I to evaluate the mathematical knowledge of students if we cannot communicate in a common language, and it's wrong to expect the right answer from them?  And isn't it more than a little racist to make assumptions about students based on their biological sex, skin color, or national origin?  Of course it is, but that's what I'm being told to do.

Mathematics educators committed to social justice also work to both raise awareness of the ways textbook examples exclude and stereotype certain students...

I'm not sure what color, sexual orientation, or gender those parabolas are in my textbook *sigh*.  But I should probably find out:  

"Are there word problems that challenge gender stereotypes"...The class could not find problems involving non-nuclear families (e.g., two moms, a single dad) or gender nonconforming characters (e.g., John cutting ribbon).

This is what is now important when we (pretend to) teach math.

We're not supposed to take students who don't know math and teach them to use it in support of a Marxist ideology by 

making data visualizations to show food availability for different communities, analyzing the ethnicities of different math tracks in high school...looking at the ways gun violence affects children... modelling border policies...considering the nature of safe water to drink...and celebrating Black mathematicians.

Those are interesting topics--but they're social science topics, not math topics.  As a math teacher it's my job to teach students how to wield the tool, let them explore those social topics in a social science course.  I'll be blunt--I don't think teenagers have enough life experience to truly analyze these topics.  And celebrating Black mathematicians--strictly because of the color of their skin--goes against everything I've ever been taught and everything I believe.  This framework is divisive.

That's enough for now.  I'll do other posts later.

Update, 5/24/21Our job is education, not indoctrination.  Read what professors Glenn Loury and John McWhorter say about this focus on race in education.

Update #2, 5/24/21:   Racists think race is everything, race is a person's predominant characteristic.  The "woke" also think race is everything, race is a person's predominant characteristic.  There's no difference in those beliefs.  Wokeism Is Racism, and neither has a place in California's public schools.  If you’re advocating for "equity" you are advocating for discrimination on the basis of an immutable characteristic. Woke? No thank you. Wake up.  And read Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron.

Is Anyone Truly Surprised By Such Behavior?

From Freedom Foundation's press release:

(OLYMPIA, WASH.) – In the real world, taking someone else’s money without their permission is theft. And trying to conceal the original offense by forging the victim’s name on a document giving you permission would only compound your guilt.

But in the corrupt and desperate alternate universe of government employee unions, forging the name of an unwitting worker on a membership contract in order to continue confiscating his or her regular dues payments seems to be standard operating procedure.

In court, union lawyers argue that the illegality of forgery means the plaintiffs cannot recover under the constitution.

On May 12, the Freedom Foundation — a national, nonprofit government watchdog group specializing in the unlawful activities of public-sector unions — submitted final reply briefs in four separate lawsuits alleging union forgery.

The cases — three in Oregon and one in California — are not entirely identical, but in each the defense is advancing the argument that neither the union nor the state collecting unauthorized dues on its behalf is violating the Constitution.

In the case of the states, attorneys representing both Oregon and California insist they are merely the collection agent for the unions, which specify whose check is to be garnished and for how much. As for the unions, they argue they can’t be sued because they are not state actors.

Public-sector unions like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) have been on the defensive since U.S. Supreme Court rulings like Harris v. Quinn (2014) and Janus v. AFSCME (2018) recognized the First Amendment rights of public employees to decline union participation.

The unions routinely place roadblocks in the paths of employees asking to end their union membership, and the standard union defense is to argue a signed membership contract supersedes the Constitution. It doesn’t, but in any case, a forged contract requires the union to concoct an even more convoluted defense.

In one of the three Oregon cases, Zielinski v. SEIU 503, union lawyers attempt to use the forgery to escape culpability by asserting, “A private party’s alleged actions that violate state law and are not condoned by any identified state practice have no source in state policy and therefore are not ‘under color of law.’”

“No amount of legal gymnastics can hide that (the) respondents claim they are relieved of liability under the First Amendment, not because of an employee’s voluntary agreement, but because of a union’s fraud,” wrote Freedom Foundation attorney James Abernathy in the California case, Quezambra v. United Domestic Workers of America.

The other two Oregon cases, Cash Schiewe v. SEIU 503 and Wright v. SEIU 503 involve electronic forgeries.  The unions continue to contend the First Amendment doesn’t apply because the unions were not “state actors” and were not operating “under color of state law.”

The union says we are complaining about the forgery, which state law prohibits and cannot be an official state policy (required for state action),” explained Freedom Foundation Senior Litigation Counsel Eric Stahlfeld. “We’re actually complaining about the state of Oregon taking lawfully earned wages from an employee’s paycheck. Only when the union argues that money can be diverted into its hand based on the cards do we say there is no private contract, but a forgery.

“Even if the union forged the signatures, we would not be complaining if the state did not divert the lawfully earned wages to the union,” he said. “The union can forge as many signatures on cards as it wants, but there is no harm until the state takes the money.  Therefore, the wrongful act is the state diverting the money.  The union is on the hook because it is using the CBA and state statute to demand and require the state to divert that money.”

“It beggars belief that we have to counter such weak arguments in civil court at all,” said Freedom Foundation CEO Aaron Withe. “Forgery is a crime, and whoever is responsible for committing or authorizing it should be behind bars. But for obvious reasons prosecutors in overwhelmingly liberal states have little stomach for seeing their union allies in handcuffs, so the Freedom Foundation has to offer protections the workers should really be able to take for granted.”

Monday, May 17, 2021

American Math Education Must Be Awesome If We Can Afford To Muck It Up By Injecting Race

Among all human endeavors, mathematics stands alone in terms of its beauty, universality, and innumerable applications. Though its role is often obscured by esoteric language, mathematics is behind almost all of humanity’s major advances in science and engineering.

Bridges stand, planes fly, rockets carry us into space, and MRIs can see into our brains thanks to precise mathematical calculations performed by powerful computers, invented by mathematicians such as Alan Turing and John von Neumann. Behind tasks performed by computers—predicting the weather, performing complex financial transactions, or encrypting billions of messages each day—lie sophisticated mathematical algorithms. Artificial intelligence, for example, is but a happy marriage between powerful computers and abstract mathematical models that sort and analyze massive amounts of data...

There are many reasons for this failure, but the way that we educate and prepare teachers is particularly influential. The vast majority of K-12 math teachers are graduates of teacher-preparation programs that teach very little substantive mathematics. Schools of education are filled with courses about social justice, identity politics, or, at best, methods courses with minimal math content. Math majors, on the other hand, must be certified to teach math in most public schools, which is a costly and time-consuming process. This has led to a constant stream of ill-advised and dumbed-down reforms. One of the latest fads is anti-racist mathematics. Promoted in several states, the bizarre doctrine threatens to further degrade the teaching of mathematics.

Another major concern is the twisted interpretation of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Under the banner of DEI, universities are abandoning the use of standardized tests like the SAT and GRE in admissions, and cities are considering scrapping academic tracking and various gifted programs in schools, which they deem “inequitable.” This is despite the fact that such programs are particularly effective, when properly implemented, at discovering and encouraging talented children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The new 2021 Mathematics Framework, currently under consideration by California’s Department of Education, does away “with all tracking, acceleration, gifted programs, or any instruction that involves clustering by individual differences, without expressing any awareness of the impact these drastic alterations would have in preparing STEM-ready candidates.” Readjustments in this direction are happening in other states, too. These measures will not only hinder the progress of the generations of our future STEM workforce but also contribute to structural inequalities, as they are uniquely detrimental to students whose parents cannot send them to private schools or effective enrichment programs. Children stuck with this low-quality education are rarely prepared for higher education and employment in STEM.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Cheating

I've written a few times recently about students who cheat.  They took the easy way out.  With apps, the internet, and distance teaching it's become entirely too easy to cheat and a reckoning cannot help but come, especially when our college and university students resort to it so frequently:

Our economic system is based on integrity. The reliability of our financial systems, such as banks, insurance companies, and the stock market, depends on people keeping their word. We expect deposits to be reflected in account balances, insured property that gets damaged to be replaced, and stock purchases added to portfolios. Inescapably, when dishonorable people choose to deceive, sooner or later there is a cost. 

Today, the convenience of cheating has made it more ubiquitous on college campuses, and it will eventually cost us all. Just as the economic value of four-year degrees shows signs of declining, students are leaving college unprepared academically and ethically to enter the workforce. This threatens to diminish our culture, economy, and competitiveness. An infusion of integrity is sorely needed.

Here's a staggering number:

Penn State professor Linda TreviƱo estimates that approximately two-thirds of the student population cheats in her book Cheating in College. As she notes, it is hard to get reliable information because you’re expecting an honest answer about cheating from someone who may well be dishonest.

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

The Advantage of Double Standards

You can be twice as hypocritical as everyone else!  Snip from Instapundit today:


The al-AP leopard has not changed its spots.

The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

This isn't being done because not enough whites and Asians meet admissions standards:

The University of California won't consider SAT and ACT scores that are submitted with admission and scholarship applications under a settlement of a student lawsuit. 

The agreement was announced Friday. The 10-campus system, which has more than 280,000 students statewide, decided not to continue fighting a judge's injunction issued last fall that barred it from considering the scores for admission even when they were submitted voluntarily. 

The Board of Regents already had voted to drop the SAT and ACT tests as admission requirements through 2024. Activists have long argued that standardized tests put minority and low-income students at a disadvantage.

The View of a Leftist

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Values vs Indoctrination

Joanne was so spot-on today that I am just going to link to her.  Here's something to wet your whistle:

To stand up against indoctrination in schools, Greg Lukianoff proposes principles for “the empowering of the American mind” on the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) blog.

If K-12 education is to include moral education, it must allow students to question or dissent from the moral education it provides, without fear of punishment. Otherwise, it is indoctrination and thought reform, not education. When students disagree with moral instruction, they should be graded on how well they argue their counterpoints; they should not be treated as if they had committed a sacrilege. There is a realm of personal conscience that those in authority have no right to invade. If we are to have a truly free, diverse, pluralistic society, the most K-12 educators should do is to try to persuade; they should not force adherence to any ideology.

Is Lukianoff willing to stand by his statement 100%?  What if someone's point of view (slavery is OK, we should euthanize the mentally disabled) is entirely reprehensible?  Or worse, what if someone's point of view hurts someone else's feelings?  We can't have that, can we?  Lukianoff's goal is laudable, but sadly, I'm sure it's far too much to expect from public school teachers.

Students should not be pushed to adopt a religious or political faith in public school, writes Lukianoff.

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

A Positive Test

No students come to school on Wednesdays, so I went in to school this morning to get some work done.  One of my classes has a test this Friday, so I spent some time zooming with students who had questions about the review assignment.  

While I was zooming, one of our vice principals and our head custodian came in to my room.  They had a seating chart (we were required to submit those recently) and a tape measure and were measuring distances from one seat to nearby seats.  After my meetings I went to the office to see what that was all about.  

Sure enough, one of my students has tentatively tested positive for the 'rona, and they were measuring in accordance with our contact tracing protocols.  We can allow students to sit within 3' of each other, but if someone has the 'rona, we quarantine for 10 days anyone who sat within 6' of them.  The distancing in my room was satisfactory so no additional students from my class were quarantined.

I'll be glad when this is done.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A College Education

Is a bachelor's degree an entitlement, or a marker that the recipient has certain academic qualities?  Listen to what comes out of some of our universities and you might think it's the former.  Remember when schools were talking about getting rid of entrance exams in order to attract more "students of color"?(Except for Asians, of course--schools don't want more of them.)  How did that work out?

Before the pandemic, a growing number of colleges stopped requiring applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores, as a way to increase diversity on their campuses. But researchers are finding that the test-optional policy isn’t substantially raising the share of low-income students or students of color at colleges that have tried it.

The latest study, published in the peer-reviewed American Educational Research Journal in April 2021, found that test-optional admissions increased the share of Black, Latino and Native American students by only 1 percentage point at about 100 colleges and universities that adopted the policy between 2005-06 and 2015-16. The share of low-income students, as measured by those who qualify for federal Pell Grants, also increased by only 1 percentage point on these campuses, compared to similar schools that continued to require SAT and ACT scores. 

What's unsaid but obvious is that schools are doing away with the SAT/ACT because those tests show that the students the schools want more of aren't academically prepared.  I say let's get more such students better prepared in high school through outreach programs and rigorous academics sans excuses, rather than lowering college admissions standards--and, no doubt, academic standards as well.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Breaking The Law

My first question upon reading this article is:  Is it this easy to get around all of God's laws?  Asking for a friend.

It's hard to imagine that anything literally hanging from utility poles across Manhattan could be considered "hidden," but throughout the borough, about 18 miles of translucent wire stretches around the skyline, and most people have likely never noticed. It's called an eruv (plural eruvin), and its existence is thanks to the Jewish Sabbath.

On the Sabbath, which is viewed as a day of rest, observant Jewish people aren't allowed to carry anything—books, groceries, even children—in public places (doing so is considered "work"). The eruv encircles much of Manhattan, acting as a symbolic boundary that turns the very public streets of the city into a private space, much like one's own home. This allows people to freely communicate and socialize on the Sabbath—and carry whatever they please—without having to worry about breaking Jewish law.

Along with everything else in New York City, the eruv isn't cheap. It costs a group of Orthodox synagogues $100,000 a year to maintain the wires, which are inspected by a rabbi every Thursday before dawn to confirm they are all still attached. While wires do occasionally fall, the overall eruv has survived events such as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and Hurricane Sandy. When eruv wires do break, it can cause enough of a stir to make news. Most notably, in 2011 a wire broke near the United Nations building, which caused a problem when repair crews couldn't get past security to fix it. The issue was eventually resolved, but not before a good deal of panic set in.

Manhattan has had an eruv in one form or another since the early 20th century, but the present-day incarnation began on the Upper West Side in 1994. It has since expanded from 126th Street to Houston Street, and its exact locations can now be viewed on Google Maps (and an intermittently updated Twitter feed). The city does have some rules in place regarding the eruv: The wires can only be a quarter-inch thick, and they must be hung at least 15 feet off the ground.

New York City isn't the only metropolis in the U.S. with an eruv. They can also be seen (or not seen) in St. Louis, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, and numerous other cities across the country.

I Have A Better Idea

From the SF Chronicle:

State finance officials project that California will have a $38 billion discretionary surplus in the upcoming fiscal year, a massive influx of cash that Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature have a month todecide how to spend.

The surplus is more than twice what the Department of Finance estimated in January, reflecting an economy that has recovered far more quickly than expected from the pandemic-induced recession, particularly for the wealthiest Californians.

Newsom wants to use more than $8 billion of the windfall to expand on the $600 stimulus checks the state already targeted to millions of Californians this spring, a second round of direct cash payments that the governor said would ultimately reach two-thirds of Californians. He also outlined additional steps to cover unpaid rent and utility bills for tenants slammed by the pandemic.

Rather than taxing us, skimming some off the top, and giving us a little back, wouldn't it be much more efficient--if your goal really were to stimulate the economy rather than to attempt to buy votes--wouldn't it be much more efficient just to lower taxes, allowing citizens to spend their own money however they want?  An idea so crazy it just might work!

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Being Cautious With The Press

For over 20 years I've been on a mailing list of what you might consider mostly "traditional" teachers, professors, and others involved in education.  Math gets a lot of focus on this list, and common core isn't strongly smiled upon but California's (now replaced) 1997 math standards are.

Last week someone on that list was asked if they knew anyone who might want to speak to the national press about California's new race-based math framework, and posted that request to the list.  I replied that just the day before I had written about those standards.  Twenty minutes later I received an email from a reporter for a national network asking if I'd like to offer some commentary.

Over the next few days that reporter and I exchanged a couple dozen emails.  She was taken aback when I agreed to be interviewed but with the caveat that I'd make my own recording of the interview.  "We don't allow that", she said, and then she asked why I wanted that.  Was it to post it on my blog?  I explained that I would want such a recording only in the event that I felt that deceptive editing caused me to be misinterpreted.  She ran my requirement (this is non-negotiable, I told her) up the flagpole and it came back approved.  Then she asked about conducting the interview at or in front of school.

Yes, I know it's public property, etc. etc. etc., but I still said no.  A district employee with a district school behind him would give my district administration a foothold to claim that I was trying to speak for, with the imprimatur of, the school district, if they disagreed and wanted to cause problems for me.  The reporter had originally suggested Zoom was an interview option, but that eventually was changed--it must be in person.  On Thursday evening she said she'd contact me on Friday, and when she didn't, I emailed her Saturday morning to ask again if she had thoughts on other locations.  She told me that her boss now wanted to run the story Monday (tomorrow) morning, and that the last chance to interview me would be at 7:30 Monday morning.  I told her that school starts at 8:05 and 7:30 wouldn't work, so she told me the interview with me is off.  I presume they found someone else.

There's no special reason to interview me, as anyone could make the same points that I would make.  However, the reporter seemed to imply that this interview was a great honor for me and that I was being difficult.  I see things differently.    She, her bosses, and the network have their agenda, and I have mine, and if I'm to help them make money (by being a part of their story) then I want to ensure my agenda gets a fair hearing.  "We don't allow that" rang in my ears.

So, to get my version of the story out, I'm working on a more detailed blog post about those standards.  I don't know when it will post, but here's a teaser:  expect a cameo by Margaret Thatcher!

I Anticipate Crickets

Eleven years ago, a UK newspaper The Independent published an article entitled Snowfalls Are Now Just A Thing of The Past.  Fast-forward to last Friday:

Following its coldest APRIL since 1922, England is now on for its coldest MAY since record-keeping began some 362 years ago–since the Maunder Minimum (1645-1715)...

“Snow in May,” reports the BBC.

“Lake District skiers ‘giddy’ in unseasonal weather,” continues the headline.

Snow started falling on Tuesday, May 4, and was deep enough by Wednesday to allow the Lake District Ski Club to open its slopes. Members were “giddy” at the unusual sight of snow-covered mountains in May, according to club president Mike Sweeney. “I haven’t seen snow at this time of year before,” he said.

The priests of the Church of Global Warming will say, "That's weather, not climate!"  Uh huh.  Weather isn't climate, but it would be if this were the hottest May on record.

Why anyone would choose to believe the global warming charlatans is far beyond me.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Wokeism Is Racism

It's hard to disagree with this excerpt:

Wokism rejects character and life’s complexities and subtleties. It places humans in boxes and categories based entirely on their race, not the content of their character or the actions they take. It rejects even the possibility of redemption. Wokism doesn’t allow for an individual’s character to matter at all. It’s segregationist, not unifying.

Wokism explicitly rejects and abandons both (Dr.) King and the Declaration’s self-evident universal principle that we’re all equal. This can’t be said enough. Wokism is racism.

Link

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

The 1950s

Lefties often accuse those of us on the right as "wanting to return to the 1950s".  I'm not sure what they're referring to there, because it seems to me that it's the left that wants to return to the 1950s--confiscatory tax rates on some, mass unionism, and segregated education:

Like several people in my private chats, I reacted to the deceptively simple question asked in a new piece by Fordham senior fellow Robert Pondiscio. 

He wonders aloud: “I believe ‘anti-racism’ is misguided. Can I still teach Black children?”

Speaking only for my family, and assuming some degree of choice exists for us in the matter that makes the question relevant, our answer is complementary in its simplicity. 

No...

When I hear white educators and education reform advocates ask if they can refute anti-racism and still teach Black children, my ears quickly translate the query into a far more troubling question.

What I hear is “can I remain solidly within the status quo of the white chauvinism that has harmed nonwhite people throughout the ages, and still qualify to teach—on my terms, without challenge to my racial beliefs—the descendants of America’s formerly enslaved people?”

“Can I teach girls if I truly believe a woman’s place is in the home?”

“Can I teach Ojibwe children if I believe Indian boarding schools weren’t entirely bad?” 

“Can I teach immigrants if I believe they hail from shithole countries?”

If nothing else, this exposes a difference of opinion on what a teacher is and what qualifies them to teach.

Philosophical loyalty oaths.  Sheesh.

Keep in mind that it was only recently that California removed from Education Code the prohibition against teachers being Communist Party members.  You can be a Communist, but in this guy's opinion, you can't question race-hustlers.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Equity Means Nobody Sees Over The Fence

Everyone in education has seen this supposedly brilliant meme about the difference between equity and equality:

Many electrons have died in rebuttal to this silliness (here's a fun one), but the end result of those currently pushing the equityequityequity line is, in reality, more like this:

Oh, does that picture offend you?  Does it give your heart a boo-boo?  Try this:

California's Department of Education is working on a new framework for K-12 mathematics that discourages gifted students from enrolling in accelerated classes that study advanced concepts like calculus.

The draft of the framework is hundreds of pages long and covers a wide range of topics. But its overriding concern is inequity. The department is worried that too many students are sorted into different math tracks based on their natural abilities, which leads some to take calculus by their senior year of high school while others don't make it past basic algebra. The department's solution is to prohibit any sorting until high school, keeping gifted kids in the same classrooms as their less mathematically inclined peers until at least grade nine.

"The inequity of mathematics tracking in California can be undone through a coordinated approach in grades 6–12," reads a January 2021 draft of the framework. "In summary, middle-school students are best served in heterogeneous classes."

In fact, the framework concludes that calculus is overvalued, even for gifted students.

"The push to calculus in grade twelve is itself misguided," says the framework.

In the spirit of the cartoons above:  no one gets to see over the fence. 

Instead of actually teaching math, doing the hard work of actually teaching elementary math--addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, including decimals, fractions and percents--we'll just do so-called social justice instead, because that's easier.

The K-12 system should concern itself with making every kid fall in love with math.

Broadly speaking, this entails making math as easy and un-math-like as possible. Math is really about language and culture and social justice, and no one is naturally better at it than anyone else, according to the framework.

The kindest thing you can say about such people is that they're idiots.  That's nicer, but probably less accurate, than saying they're intentionally destructive, and are using their power over other people's children to push their hatred.

I agree with the closing, and marvel that my own district has increased the math requirement for high school graduation so that our standards look good when compared to those of nearby districts:

If California adopts this framework, which is currently under public review, the state will end up sabotaging its brightest students. The government should let kids opt out of math if it's not for them. Don't let the false idea that there's no such thing as a gifted student herald the end of advanced math entirely.

I'm A Shareholder

These actions cannot stand, and I'll do my part to ensure they don't:

The American Civil Rights Project, a national civil rights organization, is investigating on behalf of shareholders the officers and directors of Coca Cola Company (NYSE: KO) for breaches of fiduciary duties.

If you are an interested shareholder who has held KO stock since before January 28, 2021, please click here and tell us how to contact you.

On January 28, 2021, Coca Cola’s since-departed General Counsel Bradley Gayton announced a series of policies for all Coke’s outside counsel.  These policies appear to require Coke’s outside counsel to discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, and gender in their hiring, firing, staffing, and compensation decisions; they condition both: (a) Coke’s continued use of law firms on their documented compliance with these policies; and (b) what Coke will pay lawyers for the same work on the demographic makeup of the lawyers working Coke’s matters.  Numerous commentators have highlighted that these policies both: (i) require Coke’s lawyers to violate the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and of 1866; and (ii) commit Coke itself to violating the Civil Rights Act of 1866.  The ACR Project is deeply skeptical that adopting and retaining a company policy of violating federal law could be consistent with the fiduciary obligations of Coke’s officers and directors.  It also is investigating whether the adoption of these seemingly illegal policies created a material potential liability that continues to accrue, which Coke has failed to disclose in its SEC filings.

Despite Gayton’s exit, Coke has retained the policies in question.

Shut up, sell Coca Cola, make money for your shareholders. That's all they're supposed to do.

UpdateHere are some details about Coke's recent missteps.

Monday, May 03, 2021

Here's The Education Too Many Students Have Received The Last Year

It's not impressive:

Students at a Virginia fifth grade classroom told President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden Monday that virtual learning gave them the chance to eat, take naps, and even fake technical glitches in order to avoid answering questions.

The school, Yorktown Elementary School, is now open four days per week, with students attending Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Students don't come to class Wednesday so the school can be cleaned. 

One said, "if we were really tired, we could like take a little nap." Another said, "sometimes when Ms. B was like paying attention to something else you could eat and it was fun." Yet another student added that, "If you don't know the question, you can just pretend like your mic doesn't work."

With very few exceptions, when schools aren't open, kids don't learn.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Pandemic Porn and Political Theater

The most pathetic presidential address to (part of) Congress ever took place this last week, and what a message Slow Joe sent:

The House chamber is usually packed to capacity when the president speaks. But Wednesday night, only 200 people were allowed in to watch Biden’s address. Why? Every member of Congress has had the opportunity to be vaccinated. So have the president, vice president and House speaker, as well as Cabinet officials and Supreme Court justices. They could have filled the House chamber with an audience of fully vaccinated officials.

So why were seats roped off to ensure social distancing? Why were the attendees wearing masks? Biden’s own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidance clearly stating that “fully vaccinated people can: Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.” While other CDC guidance cautions against large events, that does not contemplate events where every single person is fully vaccinated. By filling the House chamber with vaccinated people, Biden could have sent a message to millions of Americans who tuned in to watch: The vaccines work. Because we are vaccinated, we are having a normal joint session of Congress. And if you get vaccinated, your lives can return to normal again, too.

Why didn’t Biden listen to his own public health officials? Why didn’t he follow the science? Simple. To have a normal address would have signaled that a return to normalcy is at hand — that the coronavirus crisis is reaching its end. But Democrats need the crisis as a pretext for all the government spending Biden outlined Wednesday night.

Never let a crisis go to waste--even if the crisis is your own fault, even if you have to extend the crisis, or even if you have to make it up.  All three of those were in Biden's speech.