8/7/10

TFA, KIPP Unsustainable According To Rick Hess

The eduformers like Gates and Broad as well as the edupreneurs like Tom Vander Ark, along with their puppet Arne Duncan, devised RTTT and in so doing made more than a couple states change their laws to get into the contest. Those laws made it easier for charter schools to get into the game, as they are supposedly the biggest part of the education solution.

Yesterday, Rick Hess admitted we can't count on TFA or charters to do the job. No shit, Sherlock.
...as much as I love TFA and KIPP, their models have an enormous appetite for hard-working, talented, passionate youth--the problem is, there's only so much of that to go around. This tends to create natural limits to their rates of growth....

A Voice Of Clarity On Education Reform

In an epic thread populated by some intelligent, some self-important and some cool-headed folks, this:
Tom Conry Says:

I am concerned that the real context of this faux “teacher accountability” movement is rarely if ever acknowledged by its enthusiasts, including the author of this insultingly condescending and adolescent post.

It is no secret that there has been a sustained effort on the part of the right to devalorize and destabilize public education as part of the program toward eventual privatization. This is part of the neoliberal agenda, that there must be nothing that is not-the-market; in Margaret Thatcher’s words, there is no such thing as society, only individuals.

Ever since Milton Friedman’s essay on school choice, the right has been hammering away at these themes, the better to get at the last big piece of virgin public territory left in the American economy. When Lehman Bros. was still a going concern, they had held a yearly conference for at least eleven years on how to profit from the privatization of public schools.

The “blame the teacher” movement is an essential part of that strategy. It is about getting rid of the union, about subverting solidarity, about recapturing control of the shop floor. It is about the necessary Taylorization of learning (more than it is now), of its final re-packaging as a commodity and the transformation of students into consumers.

Teachers are all who stand in the breach between a humanistic classroom and the student-as-product. If history is any guide, teachers aren’t the type to be handed a script and reliably recite it. They claim a special relationship to the student that supersedes their obligation to a test bubble. They claim that their training and expertise and continued presence in the classroom gives them better tools to understand growth and ability than does a battery of standardized tests. They are right.

Do you want to help students learn, really? Are you actually concerned “for the children?”

Honestly, reading many of the posts here over the past months, that is hard to believe. But, let’s say I’m wrong about motivation. Let’s say everyone’s motives are pure.

Then make an equal society. Make a society where my students have the same number of books in their home as do the rich children. Make a society where my undocumented students are not looking over their shoulder. Make a society where my students have not experienced years of racial bigotry. Make a society where my students come to my classroom having had adequate medical care. Make a society where my students do not read in the paper that the school across town is adding Arabic, and their school is cutting French. Make a society where my students have adequate nutrition. Make a society where my students’ parents are employed at wages equal the students on the other side of town. Make a society where my students come to my class knowing the same vocabulary, having the same cultural capital as the kids across town.

Do you want to help? Get to it.

And get off the backs of the teachers, unless you’re there to help out.

Delayed Gratification, Vocabulary And Poverty

At every opportunity I try to explain how the achievement gap is a symptom of poverty, not the cause. Same for crappy schools--they're a symptom of poverty, not a cause.

With that, I give you this snippet:
Don’t Bite: Does Self Control Determine Class?

...on the whole, children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds tend to be exposed to far less language than their wealthier counterparts. A classic longitudinal study by Betty Hart and Todd Risley (1995) found that disadvantaged children hear far fewer word-types and far fewer words spoken overall, and receive less feedback and guidance in their production from their parents. To be clear: children from welfare families hear on the order of thousands fewer words per day than children from professional families, leading to what Hart and Risley term a “meaningful difference” over time. While it is difficult to quantify the impact this impoverished input has on learning, many researchers believe the effect to be massive. Just to give you an idea – by the age of three, children from professional families actually have larger recorded vocabularies than the parents of the welfare families....
There is a lot more at the link, but suffice it to say that if we chose to, we could provide universal health care and free, high-quality early childhood education which would do more to level the playing field than all the Gates/Broad/Duncan/Obama reform could ever hope to accomplish.

Crappy schools, small vocabularies, and ill health are symptoms. Poverty is the disease.  Eat the rich.

I Was Born This Way

Conservatives use fear to get their point across, but you knew that. As Prop 8 goes down in defeat the right is using fear, as usual. They say gay marriage is an assault on straight marriage. Of course, they don't say how. They imply it though. The implication is that young kids will become enamored of the gay lifestyle (whatever that is) and become gay and subsequently marry gay if they are exposed to it.

Is there anyone out there who has become gay due to being enamored of a person's gay lifestyle they came in contact with? How many of these conservatives watch tv? Millions watch that show with Neil Patrick Harris who is famously gay. Millions of them enjoyed to Ted Haggard's preachin'. Okay, these examples suck because the gay lifestyle isn't shown.

Then...

Thousands of soldiers have known some of their fellow soldiers were gay--and they lived together without straights becoming gay (or gays becoming straight for that matter). There have been blockbuster movies exposing the gay lifestyle (IOW, gays being human) without audiences all turning gay. And of course, there is the movie Deliverance, where a very straight guy with a perty mouth is made to do something gay and then goes home to ass-fuck his wife (which is sooo gay). (I just wanted to reference Deliverance, the only movie Burt Reynolds ever acted in.)

Sexuality is different for everybody. People get off on different things. Surely even conservatives understand this as they tend to be more deviant than most--and I am not knocking deviance (unless it is harmful). We are what we are.

I have had students who come from homes with two gay parents. Those kids present (show up) with no differences than kids from straight homes (actually, in my experience kids from gay homes seem a bit more grounded and ready for school). Indeed, kids from gay homes grow up both straight and gay (and in between), just like kids from straight homes grow up straight or gay. How the hell do you think we got straights and gays? They were born.

We are lucky that the youth of America see through the nonsense. Within a few years there will be no more discrimination of gays enshrined in law. But that's just the legal battle. How long until we actually respect each other's differences? It doesn't look good.

Saturday Cartoon Fun: Less Edition

No More Combat In Iraq

Iraq (Reuters) - The United States handed over control of all combat duties to Iraqi security forces on Saturday in a further sign its withdrawal is on track despite a political impasse in Iraq and a recent rise in violence.

President Barack Obama said last Monday he would stick to his promise to end U.S. combat operations in Iraq by August 31, with security being left in the hands of Iraq's own U.S.-trained army and police.

"Today is an extremely important day as we continue to progress toward turning over full responsibility to the Iraqi security forces," General Raymond Odierno, top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, told reporters after a departure ceremony for the last U.S. combat brigade.

8/5/10

Do You Know This Kid XXI? Updated Again



This kid was born in the 1870's.  He won a Nobel Prize.  He was artistic.  He fought wars.  He was not an American citizen, officially.  He is crazy famous.

Update: There have been a couple of wrong guesses so far.  I guess you need help.

He was an officer in the military (NOT America).  He was a half-breed, of sorts.  He was close friends with world leaders.  He enjoyed a good cigar.

There.  Now it should be easy.

It's not Albert Schweitzer, Thomas Mann, Alfred Adler or Albert Einstein.

And the winner is...Mikeb302000 with his answer of Winston Churchill.

Thursday Cartoon Fun: 2nd Amendment Edition

8/4/10

Smart Advertising Executive Gives Democrats A Lesson In Marketing

A friend of mine started a blog. This appears to be the first post.  Yeah, he's pretty smart.

End Bush Billionaire Bailout
By Josh Weltman

If Democrats want to end the “Bush Tax Cuts” they should all start calling the program the "Bush Billionaire Bailout.”

Democrats have good ideas. Ending the the Bush Tax Cuts is a good idea. Letting the cuts expire would raise the tax rate 2% on the wealthiest Americans, people who make over 250K a year. Some even make over a billion. During a recession, when times are tough, asking the strongest to carry a bit more weight is a good idea. It should not be hard to sell. But Democrats are bad salesmen.

Time and time again, Democrats stand helplessly by and watch Republicans paint shitty ideas gold and sell the sparkling turds to the American public. Getting “Government off people’s backs,” ending the “Death Tax,” the “War on Terror,” are all proven bad ideas wrapped in great words that sell hard.

But Democrats don’t even know how to sell their good ideas. I don't know why. Maybe Democrats think their ideas are so good they'll sell themselves.

They won't.

Maybe they think selling will over simplify their nuanced elegant programs, plans and solutions.

It will. That's the point.

People don't want nuanced and elegant choices. People don’t even want good choices. People want easy choices. Good salesmen know this. Republicans know this. Democrats can’t seem to get it through their thick pointed heads.

Why, for example, if Democrats want to get rid of the Bush Tax Cuts, are they calling them the "Bush Tax Cuts." Who doesn’t like a “Tax Cut?” I like “Tax Cuts.” Every American likes a "Tax Cut." They are never going to sell Americans on ending a "Tax Cut."

Democrats control the White House, the House and the Senate, but what’s frustrating as hell is their unwillingness to take control the political debate. -- To sell their ideas.

They let Republican strategist control the debate. They let Fox News control the daily news cycle. And they let pollsters like Frank Luntz control the words used to frame ideas.

Democrats should take control of this one. And sell it hard. Get together and pull a Luntz. Rename the “Bush Tax Cuts” the "Bush Billionaire Bailout." -- Americans hate bailouts. You don’t need no high priced Washington pollster to tell you that. Try it. And listen to what people say.

It’ll sound like this.

A Billionaire Bailout! Are you serious! During a recession? With one in six Americans out of work! Republicans want to continue the "BUSH BILLIONAIRE BAILOUT!

No freaking way!

That Billionaire Bailout thing has got to stop! And anyone who wants to keep that Billionaire Bailout thing, they can take a hike too.

Listen Democrats. Hear that? Don’t it sound sweet? It’s the sound of Americans buying a good idea.

Are you sold?

Bob Reich For President

Forty of America’s richest families or individuals – almost all billionaires – have pledged to donate at least half their fortunes to charity. The total is a whopping $125 billion. Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates reached out to some 80 members of the Forbes billionaires list, seeking their pledges.

I think it’s admirable that Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett give so much to charity and have corralled other billionaires to do the same.

But I’m also appalled at what this reveals about how much money is now concentrated in so few hands. It’s more evidence we’re back in the late nineteenth century when robber barons lorded over the economy and almost everyone else lost ground. The Vanderbilts, Carnegies, Rockefellers made so much money they too could give away large chunks to charity and still maintain their outsized fortunes and their power and influence.

Most telling is how much wealthier the richest have become over the past year. Forbes Magazine’s list of the world’s billionaires (40 percent of them Americans), show them with an average net worth of $3.5 billion – and an average increase of $500 million in the last 12 months.

America’s median hourly wage, meanwhile, dropped last year, and it continues to drop. That’s not even counting the 15 million Americans still out of work.

Most Americans don’t need charity. They need good jobs.

Monday Bonus Cartoon Fun: Certifiably Oxymoronic Edition

Monday Cartoon Fun: The Mayans Edition

Prop 8 Is Unconstitutional: Updated

by Adam Bink

I just finished reading the meat of the decision. Chief Judge Vaughn Walker has ruled Prop 8 is unconstitutional on both Equal Protection and Due Process grounds. Huge win. The decision is likely to be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Developing…

CONCLUSION
Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis,the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

REMEDIES
Plaintiffs have demonstrated by overwhelming evidence that Proposition 8 violates their due process and equal protection rights and that they will continue to suffer these constitutional violations until state officials cease enforcement of Proposition 8. California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples and has not suffered any demonstrated harm as a result, see FF 64-66; moreover, California officials have chosen not to defend Proposition 8 in these proceedings.

Because Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, the court orders entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement; prohibiting the official defendants from applying or enforcing Proposition 8 and directing the official defendants that all persons under their control or supervision shall not apply or enforce Proposition 8. The clerk is DIRECTED to enter judgment without bond in favor of plaintiffs and plaintiff-intervenors and against defendants anddefendant-intervenors pursuant to FRCP 58.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


Link to full PDF of decision

Let Them Eat....Um, Less

Senate Makes Further Cuts to Food Stamps to Pay for Medicaid, EduJobs

...And they expanded the cuts to SNAP [food stamps]. A CBO score released last night shows the revised version more than pays for itself, reducing the deficit by $1.37 billion over the next ten years. SNAP benefits face a $11.9 billion rollback starting in April, 2014. A family of three can expect their benefits to drop about $50 a month...[emphasis mine]

8/3/10

Arne Duncan's Premise Is Faulty

Completely lifted and stolen from TYWKIWDBI:
The myth of the large upper middle class

Among the many theories exposed as fallacies by the Great Recession is the idea of the mass upper middle class. During the years of the American bubble economy, progressives and conservatives alike lauded the graduation of most citizens from the working class to a new elite that included the majority of Americans...

Elite progressives and elite conservatives share the assumption that the ideal society is one in which most Americans would be more like them, in owning educational credentials (progressives) or capital (conservatives)...

Progressives love to claim that education is the key to upward mobility. But this is based on an obvious fallacy. The "college premium" that results in higher incomes for college graduates is the result of the relative scarcity of college degrees. If everyone had a B.A., then the value of a B.A. in generating high wages would drop. We know this to be the case, because access to college has expanded more rapidly in Europe, where the gap in wages between the college-educated and the rest as a result is smaller than in the U.S.

Nor is there any basis to the claim, repeated by politicians and pundits of both parties, that most of the jobs of the future require a college education. On the eve of the Great Recession, the Bureau of Labor Statistics identified the occupations with the largest numerical growth in 2008-2018: registered nurses; home health aides; customer service representatives; combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food; personal and home care aides; retail salespersons; office clerks, general; accountants and auditors; nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants; and post-secondary teachers. Of these careers, only two -- accountants and auditors, and post-secondary teachers -- require a bachelor’s degree rather than on-the-job training or an associate degree, and only one -- post-secondary teachers -- requires a graduate degree (a doctorate)...

Conservatives of the bubble economy era had their own mass upper-middle-class fantasy. In their version, membership in the mass upper middle class depended not upon educational credentials but upon ownership of capital invested in the stock market...

A majority of Americans may have some money invested in the stock market, usually through employer pension plans or 401Ks, but it is very little indeed. Forty-three percent of Americans have less than $10,000 in retirement savings and 36 percent contribute nothing to retirement savings at all...

Millions of Americans who by objective standards belong to the working class or lower middle class have persuaded themselves that they are part of the professional-investor elite, because they have worthless degrees from diploma mills, negligible amounts invested in stocks, and suburban trophy houses they cannot afford...

But many have profited from the peddling of the dream of the mass upper middle class. The claim that everyone should go to college served the interests of the educational-industrial complex, from K-12 to the universities, that now serves as an important constituency of the Democratic Party. (Along with Wall Street investment banks, universities provided Barack Obama with his largest campaign donations.) And the claim that everyone needs to pour money into the stock market, to be managed by banks and brokers who fleece their clients, served the interests of the financial-industrial complex that has replaced real-economy businesses as the dominant force in the Republican Party...

[Salon link to entire article (the above are snippets).]

Jamie Lou Dunbar's "It's Alive!" Needs Funding

I posted about Jamie and his first self-published project, Bang!, an illustrated comic book about the Big Bang, back in May.  He is now trying to self-publish his next book, It's Alive!, and needs some support.

I have known Jamie since he was a little kid.  I know his awesome parents as well as some of his friends.  Jamie is an honest, brilliant, creative, fun, funny and sweet feller.  His work is targeted towards educating kids, something I am very supportive of (never end a sentence with a preposition).  And, since I don't have much money, this is how I am supporting Jamie's efforts--by advertising for him.

Go to the links, look around, and decide if you want to support Jamie.  I am sure you will!

video

8/2/10

BP Spilled Lots Of Oil, Will Owe Lots Of Money In Fines

The blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico gushed even more oil than the worst case scenario envisioned, a whopping total of 4.9 million barrels, or 205.8 million gallons, according to a new analysis by government scientists charged with estimating the flow rate.

BP's Macondo well spewed 62,000 barrels of oil a day initially, and as the reservoir gradually depleted itself the flow eased to 53,000 barrels a day until the well was finally capped and sealed on July 15, according to scientists in the Flow Rate Technical Group, supervised by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The new numbers, released by the government Monday night, once again nudge upward the scale of the disaster. If correct -- the government allows for a margin of error of 10 percent -- the flow rate would make this spill significantly larger than the Ixtoc I blowout of 1979, which polluted the southern Gulf of Mexico with 138 million gallons over the coursre of 10 months. That had been the record for the largest unintentional oil spill in the planet's history, surpassed only by the intentional spills of the Persian Gulf War.

The flow rate estimates have been a major source of confusion and controversy since the April 20 explosion on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon. Initially the government and BP pegged the leak at 1,000 barrels a day, then 5,000 barrels a day. The flow rate team, assembled in May, examined the surface slick and video from the sea floor, and soon upped the estimate to 12,000 to 25,000 barrels a day. But then came more high-definition video, and pressure readings analyzed by physicists, and by early June the government declared the flow to be 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day.
Washington Post

Monday Bonus Cartoon Fun: Thanks For Nothing Edition


Monday Cartoon Fun: Big Brother Edition

8/1/10

Cal Berkeley Office Of President Uses "michelle rhee whore" As Google Search Term

Here is a screenshot of a visitor's search terms along with some other information. Notice that the person accessed TFT from the Office of the President at UC Berkeley, and they used "michelle rhee whore" as their search term.  Funny, I know!

Now, I am not trying to get anyone in trouble, and I don't think I will.  I also don't think this was Cal's president doing the searching (but someone in his office.  Or him!).  The search led him/her here.

I have another service I use for this kind of thing with more details, but I don't care enough to look into this any further.  It's just funny that the West Coast's premier institution of higher learning has faculty/employees who are just like the rest of us--foul-mouthed-Rhee bashers.

It All Rolls Into One, And Nothing Comes For Free...

Happy Birthday, Jerry.

Do You Know This Kid XX? Updated Again


This adorable feller was born in 1972, when I was 9. His kid went to the same preschool as my kid! He is a musician. He is in a band. He rocks.

Update:  Well, it looks as if folks have given up on this one.  Althea emailed me an answer, and as usual, she is correct.  I will post the correct answer later today, unless someone else chimes in...

And the answer is, Billy Joe Armstrong of Greenday.

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