I have a check sitting in my wallet. It is from the PTA, a reimbursement for a field trip totaling about $160. I simply had not gotten around to depositing it.
Since I am leaving for Oregon in the morning, and I was going right past the bank from which the check was drawn today, I decided to go in and cash it, knowing that I didn't have an account at Bank of America, but the check originated from that very BofA branch, so I could just cash it there! Cool!
I went into the nearly empty bank, walked up to a teller, handed her the check, and said "I would like to cash this check."
She told me to "swipe" my BofA card, and I said I don't have an account, but the check is from here.
She told me to sign the roster on the round table and a banker would verify the signature.
Twenty minutes later, after a conversation with a wonderful guy who was also waiting for something, the signature was verified and I was told to go back to a teller to get the check cashed.
The teller took the check and started entering keystrokes into her computer. Seven million keystrokes later she said, "There is a $5 service charge for cashing a check."
I took the check from her hand and walked out.
Now the check is back in my wallet, I guess where it belongs.
Oregon, mom, here we come. Blogging will be light, if at all, for the next week or so....
The time is right — your foundation [Gates'], the world's largest, recently announced a big push to improve postsecondary education. It's a terrific move. High-quality college credentials are the key to opportunity in the modern economy. If our higher-education system doesn't get much better at helping more students earn them, your good work in improving elementary and secondary education will be for naught.Maybe it's just me, but don't the bolded sentences seem to say that it is the degree--the piece of paper--that is the goal of college as opposed to, say, the education one might receive at the college?
And this is from Kevin Carey, a self-described education policy reformer. Here, folks, is a perfect example of the problem we face when we talk about reforming education: a "wonk" claiming the important thing to get at college is the degree.
Robert McNamara, Architect of Vietnam War, Dies at 93There may come a day I will dance on your grave. If unable to dance I will crawl across it. Unable to dance I will crawl... (Hell in a Bucket, The Grateful Dead)
Robert S. McNamara died in his sleep at his home in Washington early this morning, family members said. McNamara, who served as secretary of defense during the Vietnam war under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, was 93.
From the start, however, some doubts must have risen about the crisis rhetoric, because in 1990, Admiral James Watkins, the secretary of energy (yes, energy), commissioned the Sandia Laboratories in New Mexico to document the decline [of SAT scores] with some actual data.More here and here.
Systems scientists there produced a study consisting almost entirely of charts, tables, and graphs, plus brief analyses of what the numbers signified, which amounted to a major "Oops!" As their puzzled preface put it, "To our surprise, on nearly every measure, we found steady or slightly improving trends."
One section, for example, analyzed SAT scores between the late 1970s and 1990, a period when those scores slipped markedly. ("A Nation at Risk" spotlighted the decline of scores from 1963 to 1980 as dead-bang evidence of failing schools.) The Sandia report, however, broke the scores down by various subgroups, and something astonishing emerged. Nearly every subgroup -- ethnic minorities, rich kids, poor kids, middle class kids, top students, average students, low-ranked students -- held steady or improved during those years. Yet overall scores dropped. How could that be?
Simple -- statisticians call it Simpson's paradox: The average can change in one direction while all the subgroups change in the opposite direction if proportions among the subgroups are changing. Early in the period studied, only top students took the test. But during those twenty years, the pool of test takers expanded to include many lower-ranked students. Because the proportion of top students to all students was shrinking, the scores inevitably dropped. That decline signified not failure but rather progress toward what had been a national goal: extending educational opportunities to a broader range of the population.
By then, however, catastrophically failing schools had become a political necessity. George H.W. Bush campaigned to replace Reagan as president on a promise to confront the crisis. He had just called an education summit to tackle it, so there simply had to be a crisis.
The government never released the Sandia report. It went into peer review and there died a quiet death. Hardly anyone else knew it even existed until, in 1993, the Journal of Educational Research, read by only a small group of specialists, printed the report.[emphasis all mine]