Robert Reich On Palin (among other things)

Bob Reich is the man. He has a post up about the difference between bold and just plain stoopid. Here is the money quote:
Sarah Palin has been a governor of state inhabited by more moose than people for twenty months, and before that mayor of a town with a population smaller than two blocks of downtown Manhattan. Although she has barely exercised power, she is already under federal investigation for abuse of it. And while Ms. Palin is perfectly entitled to believe that evolution is a myth, that women should be barred from choosing to have abortions, and that global warming has yet to be proven, these views all run counter to the views of mainstream America.
The whole post just below....
McCain, Palin, and the Important Difference Between Boldness and Riskiness

At this perilous juncture, America needs boldness. But it does not need to take unnecessary risks. The distinction between boldness and riskiness is critical, as evidenced by the events of the last two days.

Barack Obama has laid out a bold plan for reforming the economy and redirecting foreign policy -- a plan whose boldness is directly proportional to the scale of the problems we face. On Thursday night he restated it in detail. As someone who has had a very modest role in developing it, and who served as a cabinet officer under Bill Clinton and therefore knows something about public policy and about the challenges we face, I can attest to the appropriateness and boldness of Obama's plan.

John McCain’s plan, on the other hand, is the reverse of boldness. Whatever you think of it, there is little disputing that McCain would continue Bush’s economic and foreign policies and even enlarge upon them – adding even more tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, injecting even more belligerence into foreign policy.

McCain’s choice of vice president is termed “bold” in today’s headlines but it is not at all bold, if we understand boldness to be the equivalent of courageous and appropriate to the times. To the contrary, the choice suggests that McCain caved to the religious right within the Republican Party, using his pick as a political ploy to
stir their enthusiasm while perhaps attracting a few women who are attracted to a female on a ticket regardless of her views.

Yet his choice is risky – not just for McCain’s campaign but for America’s future. Yesterday McCain celebrated his 92nd birthday; he has a history of skin cancer; if elected, he would be the oldest American ever to serve. Hence, his choice of vice president is critically important because the odds are much higher than normal that such a person would have assume the office of the presidency.

Sarah Palin has been a governor of state inhabited by more moose than people for twenty months, and before that mayor of a town with a population smaller than two blocks of downtown Manhattan. Although she has barely exercised power, she is already under federal investigation for abuse of it. And while Ms. Palin is perfectly entitled to believe that evolution is a myth, that women should be barred from choosing to have abortions, and that global warming has yet to be proven, these views all run counter to the views of mainstream America.

Palin’s defenders say that she is no less experienced than Obama, but that is false. Barack Obama has served as a United States Senator and an Illinois state legislator; he has also been a community organizer in Chicago. He knows how Washington works and does not work; he knows the ways our cities and metropolitan regions function and do not; his breadth and depth of experience around the world – both personally and officially – is impressive. Obama can lead the nation at a time of crisis; Sarah Palin cannot. Until very recently she did not even know what a vice president does. (Last month, on Larry Kudlow’s CNBC program – a predictable den of conservative Republican thought on which I am a token Democrat – Palin asked “what is it exactly that the V.P. does every day?”)

In choosing Sarah Palin, John McCain has subjected the nation to an unnecessary risk, at the very time when America can least afford to take unnecessary risks. His choice of vice president should be mistaken for boldness. It is irresponsible.

Vouchers and Choice: What A Crock!

You can find all kinds of support for, and blogs about, school choice and vouchers. I will not bother to give links (Jay P. Greene) because you can Google it.

The pro-voucher/choice argument is this: give parents the opportunity to go to a better performing school than the shitty one their kid is in. Let's ask what makes a better performing school. Is it the teachers? The curriculum? The principal or Board of Education? Is it the population that attends the school? Yes! The last one! The population attending the school determines the test scores, because they are the ones taking the test!

Now you may want to credit teachers for the success, or lack-there-of, but that would be sort of silly since, like I said, it is the kids who take the test, not the teachers. But don't the teachers decide what the students learn? No! We decide what gets taught (well, districts and states do that really) and how we teach it (though now that is changing as we move towards a more robotic form of teaching--watch it fail too); we do not decide if a student learns it; that should be reserved for the student and her family to decide.

So, if we institute this policy of allowing folks to choose schools based on AYP scores, many low scorers will move into high-scoring schools, diluting the populations high-scores at that school, thereby lowering scores, and giving parents a reason to now abandon the new school. It creates a vicious circle of moving students around to schools that contain differing populations with differing baseline knowledge, parental involvement, socioeconomic status and the rest.

Vouchers simply move the issue from school to school, delaying any reform we as a nation might bring to making our students better learners. I have some suggestions on how to achieve a more even playing field for our children:

1. reduce poverty
2. reduce poverty
3. fund schools fully
4. pay teachers more, then see who shows up to teach
5. bring back vocational school
6. bring back tracking
7. demand parental involvement (at home, not in my classroom. In fact, stay the hell out of my classroom unless you have something to offer that I don't have to deal with. I already have to deal with 20 7-year-olds, I do not need a nosy parent in there)
8. offer music, art, and physical education

I suppose I could go on, but you get the picture. Vouchers move the problem around. They don't solve the problem; indeed, vouchers are a response to an ill-posed question: How do we give a better education to our kids? Well, first we need kids, and families, who value an education. Let's give our country a reason to value education. One way to start is to refrain from belittling the amazing achievements of those who have graduated from rigorous institutions of higher learning. In other words, we should be in awe of anyone who makes editor of the Harvard Law Review, not try to knock him down as an elitist.

We are a country of well educated, and not so well educated folks. It used to be that the less educated dreamt of providing for their children so those children could be educated. Now it seems as though those who are not educated want the same for their children. What happened? When did we get all anti-education? And blaming teachers? Ridiculous.

I lay the problem at the feet of corporate America, who places more importance on keeping up with the Jones's and making money for their shareholders (all 9 of them) than on making America the best educated, best taken care of people in the world.


Creativity: Please Don't Die!

I've been meaning to post this. I saw it over at This Brazen Teacher, and it's worth watching. He is Sir Ken Robinson, a writer, creativity expert, and Knight In Shining Armor! It's a bit long, but good. Get a beer.

Hey McCain: Fuck You!

Here is what Obama said to McCain last night. Of course Obama didn't say fuck you, but that's what he meant, and that's what we Democrats want him to say. This is how he said it:

The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.

So I’ve got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.

Thanks Barack!

Sarah Louise Heath Palin: McCain's VP

She has very little experience, and the experience she does have in in Alaska, home of cabin fever and Ted Stevens. If McCain was worried about Obama's experience and readiness to be CIC, this lady should worry him even more. How the hell did she get the nod!

If the Democrats lose to this loser of a Republican ticket, we deserve whatever war our children will die in.

OBAMA 08!!!

Read Yglesias take here.

Obama: Will Be President!

I watched Obama last night. He was forceful. He was authoritative. He was presidential. He was clear and concise. He ripped McCain a new one. He was outstanding. Pat Buchanan even thought so.

We are at a crossroads here in America. We have a chance to elect a brighter future. it is my hope that those who are worried about voting for a black dude will get over it, realize that black people can be just as outstanding as non-black people, and vote for Obama. Like he said last night, I would rather not take a 10% chance.

And Biden? I love that guy!


Hillary's Speech


The Economy Is In Trouble!!

Like you didn't know already. But, you may see some headlines today that paint a rosy picture. It's a false picture! Read Robert Reich (his post is below).

Today's Census Release on Incomes: Under the Headlines

Pay careful attention to today's release by the Census Bureau of its annual data on poverty, income and health. And don't believe the headlines.

Although the new data show that median household income increased slightly last year, a close reading shows that incomes for working families (as opposed to retirees) actually dropped. Put that drop into context and it's even more alarming. Compared to median income in 2000 -- which, like 2007, was the final year of a cycle of economic growth -- it's now clear that this is the first time Americans have become poorer, in real terms, at the end of an expansion than they were at the start. It seems almost certain that incomes will continue to decline in 2008.

The Census figures also show that the number of uninsured dropped slightly in 2007 but, here again, don't be fooled. That decline was almost entirely due to an increase in government-sponsored coverage for children, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute. Meanwhile, the rate of employer-based insurance
coverage continued its 7-year decline.

Powerline Yuck

From Powerline, home of racist, forgetful fucktards:
Michelle Obama: How Did She Do?

Beats me. She needed to say she loves America, to talk about our servicemen and to praise Hillary Clinton. She did those things. The style wasn't smooth; she often seemed rushed and edgy, but I don't think many people will hold that against her.

What mostly struck me was how over the top the finish was, with Barack appearing on video and talking to his very cute daughters. I doubt whether any Republican could get away with such a cloying scene, but everyone seems to accept that the Obamas need to convince voters that they are normal Americans.
I don't know where I heard it , and I don't remember it, but it is said Nancy said hello to Ronnie via giant video at a convention. I'll check around tomorrow.

Update: From The Frustrated Lawyer (in comments):Re: smarmy Nancy Reagan greeting Ronald at 1984 convention: http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/election2... (see the sidebar) and http://books.google.com/books?id=1ICcikZ2WrAC&p...

See? I told ya so!

More Proof They Don't Know What They're Doing

Last year I was evaluated. My students' state scores were not taken into account, but why would they be? In a teacher evaluation, the teacher, as well as the principal, set vapid, purely lip-service-to-the-man "goals" for the teacher, because as we all know, teachers need improving and the best way to do that is to point out what they don't do well.

Anyhoo, one of the goals was to have the second grade classes work toward a system where the teacher that felt most comfortable with, and was most successful at, a certain subject would teach that subject to the 3 second grade classes. For background, because my students did well on math assessments, and the principal was impressed with a math lesson she witnessed in my class, she wanted to get me to as many kids as she could, and this was a way to do that. I had mentioned it as a possibility in a conference or something during a brainstorm, and never thought about it again. She did, and suggested it as a goal. There are problems with the idea from the gitgo:

1. The other teachers have to want to teach science and literacy. What if they don't? Do I fail in my goal?

2. Parents might not want the lack of continuity for their children.

3. Kids may not like the lack of continuity.

4. I may get sick of teaching math all day every day (you upper school teachers have it rough!)

And who knows what other issues could come up?

So, that is the background and setup for what I realized after the meeting, tonight, when I got home, regarding my post below, about today's meeting, before I wrote it:

If we are to align our instructional blocks (literacy at 10am, math at 1pm, etc) so all second grade teachers teach the same thing at the same time, my goal (above) would be impossible. Not only would it be impossible, it seems to be antithetical to the pedagogy revealed by the new alignment of instructional blocks. Which pedagogy, or curricular delivery system, is best? Clearly the principal has no fucking idea.

I always blow off the goals, so my forgetting about it makes sense. But for the principal to espouse one way to deliver curriculum to kids as a worthy goal, then to tell us we are to do this aligning thing--which is the complete opposite--not only smacks of stupidity, but a bifurcated and incompatible-with-itself pedagogical view(s?). She is not compartmentalizing. She is confused. Sunni? Shia?


First Day Back At School

No kids yet, but there are meetings! My favorite meeting today was when the second grade teachers went to listen to our literacy coach tell us about a NEW literacy program from Linda Dorn (of Reading Recovery fame (or infamy)). The new program is really just a list of spelling words that we are supposed to teach for 15 minutes a day. Because 15 is a magic number! No, because the word lists won't work unless they are taught for 15 minutes. No, wait. Maybe the minutes are not consecutive, allowing me to teach the best way I know how, given my class this year and their personalities, and how we interact with one another, and all that other stuff. No, that couldn't be it because that makes sense. I think the minutes are consecutive. I think there is some research to back up the 15 minute thing, but nobody believed it, so it never got published.

Anyway, the meeting included "energizers" that were like little skits we had to get involved in to get us energized (reminded me of those corporate get-togethers when the CEO thinks he can fire up the employees by cheering and putting a company logo t-shirt on over the dress shirt). It was embarrassing. I did not go to 10 years of college to be treated like a child. Maybe teachers should not be principals because they are prone to acting, well, stupid to get kids engaged. When they try to transfer that skill as a principal to teachers, it fails (plus the fact that we are fucking adults and don't respond to that shit, but, don't let common sense get in your way).

I am so NOT excited about coming back this year. We are aligning curriculum start-times within grade levels to do the same curriculum the same hour of the day so that our ULSS (intervention system) can better align with.....WHAT? I can't even follow what the hell we are talking about because it makes no sense! ULSS consists of 2 resource teachers who are supposed to help kids teachers identify as needing a little extra help. How fucking hard is it for me, the teacher, to tell ULSS "Hey, this kid needs help borrowing and carrying in math." They want to pull the kid out during my math time to remediate him. How about we leave him in my class during math, and remove him during, say, social studies, or art, or literacy, or music, or library? Or, how about after school? Or, how about whenever is best in terms of the child's willingness to go? I think there may be an easier way than requiring every class align with every other class in a grade on manufactured, written in stone times when certain curricula will be taught. That just seems a bit too rigid to work with the non-rigid nature of teaching small children. Oh, and it won't work; ULSS is an NCLB district sanction, and the euphemism we teachers use when describing ULSS is USELESS.

So, we were to plan our whole year, and put together a weekly schedule--aligned with each other--in 2 hours. Um, 2 hours you ask? Yes. Two hours for four 2nd grade teachers to talk about how we want our whole year to look, what will be taught from 10-11am, what homework will we be sending home, and the million other things we need to talk about. Except, of course, we could not complete the task. Aligning 4 teachers with one another is going to take more than 2 hours 2 days before school starts.

You want change in public schools? Give the teachers the power, remove principals, spread the extra dough around the faculty as a thank you, and get back to raising your kids. I teach 'em, you raise 'em!

eduwonkette Revealed!!

Yes, it's true. She has revealed herself. She is Jennifer Jennings.
eduwonkette is written by Jennifer Jennings, a final year doctoral student in Sociology at Columbia University. I study many of the topics regularly covered on this blog: the effects of accountability systems on race, gender, and socioeconomic inequality, teacher and school effects on cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes, the effect of non-cognitive skills on academic achievement and attainment, school choice, and gender gaps in educational outcomes.
Gotta love her!

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