Saturday Cartoon Fun: Dot Connecting Edition


They Took My Leatherman!

Over at Newshoggers a post caught my eye. I just traveled from the Bay Area, CA to Portland, Oregon over the new year break. As per the usual the Frustrated Son and I had to partially disrobe, kiss a long-forgotten-hidden-in-the-shaving-kit-multi-tool goodbye and wait in long lines. Airline travel sucks. In America. Not so in Israel. Read on:
"Israelis, unlike Canadians and Americans, don't take s--- from anybody. When the security agency in Israel (the ISA) started to tighten security and we had to wait in line for — not for hours — but 30 or 40 minutes, all hell broke loose here. We said, 'We're not going to do this. You're going to find a way that will take care of security without touching the efficiency of the airport."

That, in a nutshell is "Israelification" - a system that protects life and limb without annoying you to death.

Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel's largest hub, Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?

"The first thing you do is to look at who is coming into your airport," said Sela.

The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

"Two benign questions. The questions aren't important. The way people act when they answer them is," Sela said.

Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of "distress" — behavioural profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.

"The word 'profiling' is a political invention by people who don't want to do security," he said. "To us, it doesn't matter if he's black, white, young or old. It's just his behaviour. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I'm doing this?"
Americans! Look 'em in the eye and say, Oy vey!

Charters Are Private?

Just How Private are Charter Schools?

There's been a concerted effort by the pro-charter crowd to "educate" the public about the so-called publicness of charter schools. You'll regularly see "charters" referred to as "public charter schools" these days, and don't think this slight change in label was accidental. The variety, quality, and types of charter schools - from your blatantly for-profit EMOs like the Edison Schools, the assortment of no excuses charter chaingangs like KIPP, rather progressive versions like the Big Picture schools, "mom and pop" charters started and run by legitimate teachers, and a number of other different types - makes this field more complicated than it first appears.

Given the variety of changes during the Bush years (and extending back towards Reagan), the whole privatization and for-profit thing has gotten a bad reputation (deservedly so), particularly given the whole Wall Street collapse '08, America's high poverty rate, and the vast disparities in income and access to resources.

"Public charter schools" is precisely the kind of term designed to obscure or confuse. Make no mistake about it - there are some very real things about charter schools that make them private. They're not a full-blown version of privatization a la vouchers, but they share a heck of a lot with the nuclear option for public education. From the East Valley Tribune:
Court ruling favors charter schools


January 4, 2010 - 3:41PM , updated: January 5, 2010 - 5:34PM

Employees cannot use federal civil rights laws to sue the owners of Arizona charter schools, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday.

The judges acknowledged that, under Arizona law, charter schools are "public schools." They are authorized to operate under state law and must comply with some - but not all - of the same requirements as traditional district schools.

But Judge Sandra Ikuta, writing for the unanimous court, said that does not make the school and its owners "state actors," something required to make a civil rights challenge. Instead, the court concluded, the school is a private company despite those state laws, at least for purposes of deciding who to hire, fire and, in this case, whether to provide a referral for a future job.

The ruling is a setback for Michael Caviness, who claims that actions by Horizon Community Learning Center employees prevented him from getting a job with the Mesa Unified School District. But attorney David Larkin, who represents Caviness, said it could have broader implications for those who work for charter schools.

For example, he said, public school employees who make comments in the media on matters of public concern are protected against retaliation from their principals and school boards. He said the civil rights laws his client cited can clearly be used to sue those officials for violating the teacher's freedom of speech.

"If a charter school teacher now does that, they don't have the (same) right to freedom of speech as a public school employee," he said.

[Continued here]
So it's not some crazy left-wing blabble to raise concerns about charters being a privatization movement - but the pro-charter crowd will do all they can to misinform the public about the private-ness of public schools. The 9th Court's ruling further confirms the privateness of charter schools; sure, they operate with public funds, but they're fall less transparent than most public schools (and public schools are not as transparent as they should be - see Michelle Rhee in particular).

They often claim education is a "civil right," but their pro-charter agenda wipes away your civil rights.
h/t KL

Thursday Cartoon Fun: Intellectual Bravery Edition


The Truth Won't Stop Them

Arne Duncan says:
"If we're going to be economically competitive and continue to innovate and create jobs, we have to get much, much better in STEM education," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. "There's a huge sense of urgency."
Stephen Krashen says:
Reduce poverty in order to improve science and math achievement

Sent to the Washington Post, January 6, 2010
The recent push for more emphasis on science, technology and math education is based on American children's performance on international tests in math and science ("$250 million initiative for science, math teachers planned," Jan. 6). But studies have shown that American children in low-poverty schools outscore nearly all other countries on these tests.

U.S. children only fall below the international average when 75 percent or more of the students in a school live in poverty. Studies also confirm that hunger, poor diet, and a lack of reading material seriously affect academic performance. We have so many children who live in poverty that it profoundly affects the average test score: The United States has the highest level of childhood poverty of industrialized countries (25%, compared to Denmark's, 2%).

Stephen Krashen
The problem is poverty, not a lack of high-powered science and math instruction.
My very first blog post was about poverty's toll on educational outcomes.

NCLB/Duncan Get Smacked Down Updated

National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel explains Race to the Top and how it doesn't really change education (NCLB haunts us):

What AR was really talking about:

h/t AR

Californucation: Parents Know It All

More proof that folks who don't know nuthin' 'bout nuthin' are in charge...
California set to pass education overhaul plan

Marisa Lagos, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The California Legislature is poised to pass an education plan today that makes far-reaching changes to how public schools are governed, giving parents the power to transfer their kids out of failing schools and to force districts to overhaul bad schools.

The dramatic changes to California's education policies have been debated for months. They are intended to make the state competitive for up to $700 million in federal dollars under President Obama's $4.3 billion Race to the Top program, which promises funding to states that embrace education policies outlined by the president by a Jan. 19 application deadline. Millions more dollars may also be at stake for the financially struggling state, as the Obama administration is expected to tie future education funding to some of his Race to the Top provisions.

The most controversial elements of the plan being voted on today by both houses of the Legislature include the so-called open enrollment and parent trigger provisions, which were championed by a number of parents groups and charter school advocates but opposed by many in the education establishment, including the state's powerful teachers' union.

Under current state law, students must attend a school in the district where they live, with some exceptions. The open enrollment legislation would allow students in the 1,000 worst schools in California - as defined by their Academic Performance Index ranking - to apply to a better school anywhere in the state, including in the same district. School districts must adopt standards for accepting or rejecting transfers under this new open enrollment policy.

The parent trigger provision would allow parents to force school districts to deal with chronically failing schools by adopting one of several "reform" plans put forth by the Obama administration, including closing the school, firing the principal and up to half of the teachers, or turning the school into a charter school. At least 50 percent of parents would have to petition for the change.

'Paradigm shift'

"We think the parent trigger especially is critically important - it's not just a new policy, it's a paradigm shift, a different way of thinking about education reform," said Ben Austin, who founded the Los Angeles-based parent advocacy group Parent Revolution. "This is not about anything other than giving parents power and trusting them to do right by their kids. The system is failing ... because it's not designed to serve kids, it's designed to serve grown-ups."

Parents aren't the only ones who would be able to force a change: Under the legislation, the state's worst schools would have to embrace one of those strategies as well. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said Monday that about 800 of the state's nearly 1,700 local districts and charter schools have indicated their intent to participate in Race to the Top.

Districts that participate agree to open up all their schools to the rules; districts that choose not to participate are still subject to the rules for their low-performing schools.

The new legislation would also make a number of other changes to help bring California in line with the federal goals. The state would create a system to track students from elementary school through college to determine what is working, make a new program for credentialing math and science teachers, and allow local school districts to use test scores and other data to evaluate teachers and principals.

Delayed by politics

"These and other reforms clearly set the stage for the governor to submit a competitive application for California to bring home a coveted Race to the Top grant," Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Baldwin Vista (Los Angeles County), said Monday.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called a special session of the Legislature in August to bring California in line with the requirements outlined by the Race to the Top. But the changes have been mired in politics, with Assembly Democrats supporting limited changes backed by the teacher's union and others. The governor threatened to veto an earlier bill by the Assembly that he said omitted the open-enrollment rule, and negotiations dragged on through December. This week, officials ultimately decided to break the open enrollment and parent trigger provisions into a separate bill from the rest of the proposed changes, though both bills are expected to pass today.

E-mail Marisa Lagos at mlagos@sfchronicle.com.
h/t JH


Harvard Educated Educators On Harvard's Education Of Educators

No link to the letter, so I posted Jim Horn's entire post.
Calling Out Harvard's Graduate School of Education
Below is an open letter from three classroom teachers to the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which has justly earned its current reputation as institutionally allied with the anti-democratic, corporate deformation of public schools and the continued undermining of public education in general. (ht to Monty Neill)
- JANUARY 4, 2010 -

The Harvard Graduate School of Education pursues the goal of training leaders in the field, and will soon offer a new degree in educational leadership. The school's website mission statement reads as follows:

To prepare leaders in education and to generate knowledge to improve student opportunity, achievement, and success.

Education touches every aspect of human activity. At the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), we believe studying and improving the enterprise of education are central to the health and future of society.

Since its founding in 1920, the Ed School has been training leaders to transform education in the United States and around the globe. Today, our faculty, students, and alumni are studying and solving the most critical challenges facing education: student assessment, the achievement gap, urban education, and teacher shortages, to name just a few. Our work is shaping how people teach, learn, and lead in schools and colleges as well as in after-school programs, high-tech companies, and international organizations. The HGSE community is pushing the frontiers of education, and the effects of our entrepreneurship are improving the world.

As veteran public school teachers, we are disappointed that the HGSE has not shown the leadership it professes by speaking out against the unprecedented attack on public education. To be sure, there have been courageous voices on your faculty who have defended public schools and the endangered idea of educating the whole child. We know that a thoughtful faculty does not think with one mind, and that there will always be differences about what constitutes the most effective pedagogies or curricula. But we have not heard the HGSE as an institution speak out on issues fundamental to the educational well-being of children and their schools.

These issues include:
  • The over-testing of students, beginning as early as 3rd grade, and the misuse of single, imperfect high- stakes standardized assessment instruments like MCAS;
  • The expansion of charters through funding formulas that divert resources from those urban and rural public schools charged with educating our most challenged children; 
  • The stripping away of art, music, critical thinking, creativity, experiential learning, trips, and play periods-of joy itself-from schools so that they might become more effective test preparation centers;  
  • The use of state curriculum frameworks-and soon, possibly, national standards -to narrow and standardize our schools, an effort that only encourages increasing numbers of affluent middle class parents to seek out for their children the same private schools that so many "reformers" have already chosen for theirs; 
  • The cynical insistence that all schools be equal in a society whose social and economic policies make us increasingly unequal; 
  • Merit pay proposals that deny and undermine the essentially collaborative nature of teaching; 
  • And finally, the sustained media vilification of hard-working, dedicated public school teachers.
These depressing developments have intensified over the past fifteen years. They violate the first principles of humane and progressive education, as we understand them.

We are proud to have served as teachers in the commonwealth where public education began a century before the country itself was founded and where Horace Mann reinvented it a century and a half ago. We have many wonderful public schools in Massachusetts that can serve as models for all schools. No child in our state deserves any less. Certainly all deserve more than a parched vision of standardization and incessant testing. A global economy demands more than multiple-choice thinking. Most importantly, human beings require more.

HGSE administration and faculty, we need you to speak out in defense of our public system of education and against abuses that have been allowed to pass silently as reforms. We need you to remind our leaders, administrators, parents and students-all of us-what it means to be educated.

As young teachers, we were inspired by the words of John Holt, Herbert Kohl, Joseph Featherstone, A.S. Neill, and Paulo Friere. Later, we would read the works of Deborah Meier, Diane Ravitch, Ted Sizer, and Jonathan Kozol. These were powerful voices to encounter. Now we need to hear your voice.

The time for Veritas is now.

Thank you.

Larry Aaronson, Cambridge Rindge Latin School, 37 years (retired)
Teacher of the Year (Class of 2007)
Recipient, Key to the City of Cambridge for "Outstanding Service" (Mayor)
Recipient, Special Cambridge City Council Citation
Mentor, Student teachers from the HGSE, 1985-2005

Ann O'Halloran, Boston Newton Public Schools, 30 years (retired)
Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year, 2007 (DOE)
Finalist, National History Teacher of Year, 2007
Honorable Mention, Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year, 2006 (DOE)
Friend of Education, 2009 (Newton Teachers Association)

Bill Schechter, Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, 35 years (retired)
METCO Recognition Awards, 2001-2005 (L-S METCO Program
"Outstanding Educator" Award, 2002 (Cornell University)
Faculty Recognition Award (Class of 1992)
Finalist, Lucretia Mott Award, 1986 (DOE)
Horace Mann Grant, 1984 (DOE)




Tuesday Cartoon Fun: Where's The Cork Edition


Happy Birthday, Mom

Money Makes The World Go 'Round

My friend Joe pointed me to this piece.  In it, Tony Judt delivers a lecture on America's apparent cognitive dissonance regarding people and money.  Doesn't it always seem to boil down to money?  But, should it?  What follows is a snippet:
What Is Living and What Is Dead in Social Democracy?
By Tony Judt

The following is adapted from a lecture given at New York University on October 19, 2009.

...But my concern tonight is the following: Why is it that here in the United States we have such difficulty even imagining a different sort of society from the one whose dysfunctions and inequalities trouble us so? We appear to have lost the capacity to question the present, much less offer alternatives to it. Why is it so beyond us to conceive of a different set of arrangements to our common advantage?

Our shortcoming—forgive the academic jargon—is discursive. We simply do not know how to talk about these things. To understand why this should be the case, some history is in order: as Keynes once observed, "A study of the history of opinion is a necessary preliminary to the emancipation of the mind." For the purposes of mental emancipation this evening, I propose that we take a minute to study the history of a prejudice: the universal contemporary resort to "economism," the invocation of economics in all discussions of public affairs.

For the last thirty years, in much of the English-speaking world (though less so in continental Europe and elsewhere), when asking ourselves whether we support a proposal or initiative, we have not asked, is it good or bad? Instead we inquire: Is it efficient? Is it productive? Would it benefit gross domestic product? Will it contribute to growth? This propensity to avoid moral considerations, to restrict ourselves to issues of profit and loss—economic questions in the narrowest sense—is not an instinctive human condition. It is an acquired taste.

We have been here before. In 1905, the young William Beveridge—whose 1942 report would lay the foundations of the British welfare state—delivered a lecture at Oxford in which he asked why it was that political philosophy had been obscured in public debates by classical economics. Beveridge's question applies with equal force today. Note, however, that this eclipse of political thought bears no relation to the writings of the great classical economists themselves. In the eighteenth century, what Adam Smith called "moral sentiments" were uppermost in economic conversations.

Indeed, the thought that we might restrict public policy considerations to a mere economic calculus was already a source of concern. The Marquis de Condorcet, one of the most perceptive writers on commercial capitalism in its early years, anticipated with distaste the prospect that "liberty will be no more, in the eyes of an avid nation, than the necessary condition for the security of financial operations." The revolutions of the age risked fostering a confusion between the freedom to make money...and freedom itself. But how did we, in our own time, come to think in exclusively economic terms? The fascination with an etiolated economic vocabulary did not come out of nowhere...
h/t JR

Do You Know These Kids VII? Updated

Jimi Hendrix

Elton John

Here are a couple of famous kids. One is dead and was born in 1942, the other is alive and was born in 1947.

Update: We have answers.  Jimi Hendrix and Elton John.  Both Althea and Nonny got Jimi, but only Nonny also got Elton John.  I must admit, Liberace was a good guess!

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